By Eddie Burton (New Jersey)
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When I saw the trailer to this film, I already came to the conclusion that this film would be one of the best movies of the year. Little to my surprise, I was completely right. The Butler follows the life of White House butler Cecile Gaines, played by Forrest Whitaker, who served as a butler in the White House for 7 presidents and how he inspired so many other African Americans hopes and dreams and to prove that anyone can do anything.

This film covers a lot of topics such as segregation, racism, and all center around one character, Cecile. With the film covering a man’s entire life, it will be a little rushed and brief. They don’t go into great detail for a lot of things that happened while all these presidents were in office. Instead they focus on segregation, civil rights etc. But even some of that is brief.

However, for the plot we get, it is an interesting watch. The characters are all developed well, even the side characters. The presidents aren’t developed much, but in all fairness, they really don’t need to be. Not one president serves a purpose to the story as a whole. Instead each president covers a certain time period. The focus however still needs to be on Cecile, which Lee Daniels does very well. Lee Daniels makes sure to never lose focus on where it needs to be.

The acting is fantastic with an all-star cast of Forrest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, John Cusack, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Terrance Howard among others. However out of all the actors, John Cusack as Richard Nixon didn’t sit well with me. John Cusack simply wasn’t right for the part. It didn’t even seem that he was trying. He didn’t have the look or the voice. Nothing about his performance made me believe he was Nixon. Surprisingly Alan Rickman brings in a great performance as Ronald Reagan. He looked like him and you could get past his deep voice and he brings in a solid performance as one of the most beloved presidents. So if Alan Rickman could do it, what’s John Cusack’s excuse?

If I did have to nitpick, some of the characters don’t bring much to the story. For example; Terrance Howard’s character. Don’t get me wrong, Howard did bring in a good performance, but if he and his character weren’t in the film, it wouldn’t change the film at all. Some characters didn’t help the story which was an issue. But the performances are outstanding as I noted before and you could tell there was a lot of commitment and heart to their performances.

The Butler will no doubt garner some Oscar buzz and I wouldn’t be surprised if Whitaker and Winfrey both take home Oscars. If they do, it’s well deserved. I love what the film talks about as well and tells it truthfully. When you watch the film, you think to yourself what a shame it was that this really did happen, but the film also shows how us as people have evolved over the years growing and learning. Altogether, this is a film not to miss.

Whether you’ll like it or hate it, you should definitely see it. For me it’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year as well as one of my favorites. It tells a great story, with great character played by great actors.

Rating: 9/10

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