When I read this morning that Lee Daniels’ The Butler was number one in the weekend box-office results, I felt like shouting for joy. I just love it when a quality film that relies on a story well told more than special effects, gratuitous violence, and endless very loud crashes attracts profitable audiences. It made $25 million. It cost $30 million to make. It should easily be turning in an impressive profit by next weekend. Hopefully that will encourage the making of more movies like it.
The review in the Ledger-Enquirer found a lot of fault with the film and gave it 2 1/2 stars. What a bunch of nonsense. If there was ever a movie deserving of at least 4 stars, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is it.
The screenplay was inspired by the true story of African-American White House butler Eugene Allen, who served seven presidents. It follows the civil rights struggle from 1952 when Dwight D. Eisenhower, played by Robin Williams, was president through the election of Barack Obama.
It depicts the butler’s relationships with the presidents during the Federal desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Nashville sit-ins, the Freedom Riders, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panther Party, the Vietnam War, the Nixon resignation, the Free South Africa Movement, and President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
The movie’s all-star cast includes five Oscar winners and one nominee. Forrest Whitaker plays the butler, Opra Winfrey plays his wife, and David Oyelowo plays his eldest son. Supporting actors include Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., and John Cusack.
It’s very well done. I was moved. Don’t pay any attention to the review in the Ledger-Enquirer.