• PG-13, 2 hr. 12 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Lee Daniels
    In Theaters:
    Aug 16, 2013 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jan 14, 2014
  • The Weinstein Company

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Lee Daniels' The Butler Reviews

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Kimber Myers
The Playlist

Lee Daniels' The Butler is the type of film that will likely please viewers who feel that they're doing their civic duty by learning about history and experiencing the trauma of the civil rights movement.

Full Review Source: The Playlist | Original Score: C+

August 12, 2013
David Berry
National Post

At times maudlin and at other times just smug, dabbed with just enough humour to keep from being insufferable, it's like a victory lap that serves to dull and distress the hard-earned footsteps that came before it.

Full Review Source: National Post | Original Score: 2.5/4

August 16, 2013
Sandy Schaefer
ScreenRant

Lee Daniels' The Butler is part lackluster biopic, part ham-fisted (and somewhat misguided) historical allegory - despite noble intentions of the cast and filmmakers.

Full Review Source: ScreenRant | Original Score: 2/5

August 17, 2013
Guy Lodge
Film4

It's effectively Forrest Gump Goes To The White House, with all the patronising political reductionism that implies.

Full Review Source: Film4

November 15, 2013
Ben Sachs
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie's a mess, but a unique and provocative one.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

August 15, 2013
Siobhan Synnot
Scotsman

Apparently the film is based on real White House butler Eugene Allen: you can't help feeling he should have been served better.

Full Review Source: Scotsman | Original Score: 2/5

November 11, 2013
Matthew Toomey
ABC Radio Brisbane

With so many actors and so many subplots, it felt like I was watching a rushed chronology of civil rights events than an engaging, character-driven story.

Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane | Original Score: B-

November 3, 2013
Philip Martin
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The film is, in the conventional and lamentable 21st-century Hollywood mode, so overt and obvious that at times it feels like a parody of historical drama.

Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Original Score: 83/100

August 16, 2013
Tim Grierson
Screen International

Squeezing a miniseries' worth of drama into a feature-length film, this impassioned story simply doesn't have the time to really delve into the epochal periods it chronicles.

Full Review Source: Screen International

August 8, 2013
Robbie Collin
Daily Telegraph

Feels so dehydrogenated and polyunsaturated that an apter title might have been Lee Daniels' I Can't Believe It's Not Butler.

Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph | Original Score: 2/5

November 14, 2013
Katey Rich
Guardian

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.

Full Review Source: Guardian | Original Score: 2/5

August 9, 2013

What The Butler tries to accomplish is so noble and ambitious that it almost doesn't matter how clumsily maudlin it ends up being, how over-earnest and sanctimonious it can be.

Full Review Source: Twitch

August 15, 2013
Jeffrey Lyles
Lyles' Movie Files

A well-meaning, but overly long history lesson that largely finds its captivating hook whenever the attention is focused off its title character.

Full Review Source: Lyles' Movie Files | Original Score: 5/10

August 15, 2013
Brian Gibson
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

A more grandiose version of The Help, The Butler stands at the ready, eager to offer an after-dinner mint of simplified, sweetened history to make us--especially white Americans--feel good about how that whole racism thing turned out in the end.

Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

December 27, 2013
Nigel Andrews
Financial Times

If only history were like this: epochs of simple-minded epic struggle, followed by happy-ever-after closures.

Full Review Source: Financial Times | Original Score: 2/5

November 14, 2013
Matt Pais
RedEye

Feels like a 12-year-old's C- oral presentation on the subject.

Full Review Source: RedEye | Original Score: 1.5/4

August 15, 2013
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Spirituality and Practice

An unimpressive survey of American racism told through an under-whelming drama.

Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice | Original Score: 2.5/5

August 15, 2013
Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

If Forest Whitaker wasn't in this film, it would have been a misfire.

Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Original Score: C+

August 17, 2013
Wesley Morris
Grantland
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's not an interpretation of actual history as much as it is a reduced revision of movie history.

Full Review Source: Grantland

January 3, 2014
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"The Butler" is a nice idea for a movie, but has a mostly silly script and some of the craziest and most laughable casting imaginable.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 2/4

August 15, 2013
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