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Generally favorable reviews - based on 47 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 166 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 47
  2. Negative: 0 out of 47
  1. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Aug 15, 2013
    100
    A brilliantly truthful film on a subject that is usually shrouded in wishful thinking, mythmongering and outright denial.
  2. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Aug 7, 2013
    83
    As Cecil, Whitaker is mesmerizing. The actor seems to shrink into his imposing frame, summoning a performance of quiet, bottled-up force.
  3. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Aug 19, 2013
    75
    With The Butler, director Lee Daniels has managed to "Gump" the Civil Rights movement. That's not necessarily a bad thing but there are times when so many famous cameos threaten to become a distraction, especially since they're only tangentially germane to the main story.
  4. Reviewed by: Laremy Legel
    Aug 13, 2013
    64
    Full of truth that's ultimately diluted by a lack of focus.
  5. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Aug 14, 2013
    63
    Although director Lee Daniels dials things down a bit here, subtlety is not what he does. That strategy worked for “Precious’’ but turned his more recent “The Paperboy’’ into a feature-length howler.
  6. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Aug 19, 2013
    60
    The Butler is a lightweight, didactic movie, a kind of well-produced high-school entertainment.
  7. Reviewed by: Katy Rich
    Aug 9, 2013
    40
    A great film about the American civil rights movement is way overdue. The Butler, overwhelmed by flash and good intentions, doesn't even come close.

See all 47 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 53
  2. Negative: 4 out of 53
  1. Aug 30, 2013
    10
    What a great movie! Great acting, writing and directing. I haven't seen a movie that I couldn't take my eyes off in a long time. This movie isWhat a great movie! Great acting, writing and directing. I haven't seen a movie that I couldn't take my eyes off in a long time. This movie is worth an Oscar. Cecil is a great actor. He is a great storyteller. I appreciate great work he put in the movie. It made me cry to learn what these people went through and it made me feel grateful for the way it is now. It shows you that America is becoming the best country now. Let's be grateful that all the people in this past made this change happen. All hate and segregation.. The people in the past changed that and made America into one. Overall, it is a masterpiece movie that I will always remember in my heart. Expand
  2. Apr 26, 2014
    10
    I somehow was unable to see this movie while it was in the local cinema. I bought home from Red Box and watched it with my 94 year whiteI somehow was unable to see this movie while it was in the local cinema. I bought home from Red Box and watched it with my 94 year white southern mother. We both enjoyed the film immensely. There is so many films that are such a waste of time and money, this is not one of those. The film does a brilliant job in the time allotted of showing the continuum of historic events that "The Butler" live through with his family. Expand
  3. Sep 12, 2013
    9
    I really liked this movie... It was well acted and had a great story attached to it. It was, however, sad to see such a self absorbed societyI really liked this movie... It was well acted and had a great story attached to it. It was, however, sad to see such a self absorbed society that treated people so poorly. I must say that I find it inspirational how this man lifted himself above the reproach of such a cruel society. I was impressed with his moral out look and his tenacity to stay focused on importance of job and family even though he had to fight through much racism. This is a great movie. Expand
  4. Aug 18, 2013
    8
    “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is the supposedly true story of Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who served under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy,“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is the supposedly true story of Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who served under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Nixon, Ford and Reagan. With a screenplay by Danny Strong based on an article by Wil Haygood, the film stars Forest Whitaker in the title role with Oprah Winfrey and a number of leading actors who, with obvious and sometimes annoying make-up nose jobs, playing the respective Presidents The film, directed by Lee Daniels, is 2 hours and 15 minutes long and I guess has to be in order to cover so much history.. Sometimes, though, in an attempt to do the subject justice, the length of the film becomes a problem. Many scenes are drawn out and beg for better editing.. Mr. Whitaker plays the role with finesse and skill and he is totally believable (Academy take note) and others with whom he works do proper portrayals as well. The problem with the film is that, in many instances, there really is no proper seque from one “chapter” or administraton to the next. Titles are used to tell us what era we are in because the script fails to do adequately. Nevertheless, the film attempts to depict life as a black person living (and dying) in the major portion of the 20th Century and, to that end, it succeeds admirably. The indignities and abuses hurled upon our fellow countrymen because of their color is shameful and hits home as the butler works by day in a white White House and goes home at night to his black environment and black reality.. The movie, for these reasons, digs deep and is worthy of our viewing time. I give the film an 8 because few films I have seen have left me with such a feeling of understanding and compassion for a race of people that deserved so much more and have, unfortunately, received so much less. In addition, it affords the viewer a sort of "fly on the wall" look at the inside the White House and of those who occupy it. Expand
  5. Sep 24, 2013
    6
    The film tries to connect the history of race relations and the story of a family. It fails to do so. It trivializes and vulgarizesThe film tries to connect the history of race relations and the story of a family. It fails to do so. It trivializes and vulgarizes everything it touches. The cameo appearances backfire badly--Robin Williams and Alan Rickman are spectacularly miscast. Forest Whitaker is extraordinary, and his work redeems the family story but cannot do much for the political history. One critic has called The Butler more of a history lesson than a film. It utterly fails to do justice to our common and very different histories. Expand
  6. Sep 6, 2013
    5
    Long and tedious. Two stars maybe. Fair acting. Good film clips. Dull in parts and way too long ..Save your money. Definitely not worth theLong and tedious. Two stars maybe. Fair acting. Good film clips. Dull in parts and way too long ..Save your money. Definitely not worth the money or time. Expand
  7. Oct 1, 2013
    1
    This movie is well done and Forest Whitaker gives a great performance, but I'm giving it a 1 because it just undeniably racist. Okay referenceThis movie is well done and Forest Whitaker gives a great performance, but I'm giving it a 1 because it just undeniably racist. Okay reference Obama great that's cool, first black president is a big deal I understand that. When you say that Reagan, one of the greatest presidents ever, was a racist...that pisses me off. There is no reason to have put that in the story. It's wrong and frankly just a low, pointless act of racism. White people can't do anything about it though but just wow, based a true story? Right, this is why racism still exists. Expand

See all 53 User Reviews

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