The Los Angeles Times' film critic Kevin Turan writes:
Though that rating (PG-13) imposes some constraints, the director's contempt for subtlety, weakness for cliché and perennial determination to wring every last drop of emotion out of a situation are inevitably factors here. …
"The Butler" turns poor Louis into a kind of African American Zelig, present at every key civil rights era turning point. That's Louis sitting in at a Woolworth's lunch counter, getting fire-bombed on a Freedom Rider bus, getting assaulted by a fire hose in Birmingham, being with Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis just before he died, donning a beret and becoming a Black Panther as Carol's hair morphs into an Angela Davis afro.
It's not that all this stuff didn't happen (see Stanley Nelson's excellent Emmy-winning doc "Freedom Riders" to get the full story), but it strains credulity to have it all happen to one person, and all in the context of a strained father-son relationship.
Since I consider the Oprah one of the most repulsive individuals on Earth, there was never any chance I would see this turkey, but I have to admit I was surprised to see a LSM film critic be so, well, critical of it.
And here's another shocker. You've no doubt heard about the Oprah's "I am the new Rosa Parks because a European sales clerk was rude to me when I wanted to buy a $38,000 purse, but I wish people had made such a big deal of it" performance. What a coincidence that this episode of hideous racist oppression occurred during her movie promotion tour when the movie is all about racist Amerika! Also from Mr. Turan's review:
Nevertheless, "The Butler" reveals Daniels' ability to create believable black middle class situations that are so hard to come by on mainstream screens. (It took the combined efforts of close to 40 different producers to finally make this film a reality.)
But paralleling this gift, and hampering "The Butler," is Daniels' tin ear when it comes to white folks, individuals who do not have a fraction of the recognizable humanity of the black characters even in the rare moments when they're not being racists or morons or both.
Five name actors, from Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower through Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, play presidents Cecil Gaines served and not one of them is remotely believable. Movie audiences who've suffered for decades with unrealistic portrays of African Americans and Native Americans in multi-racial pictures are now being asked to do the same with Caucasians.
Maybe someone can explain to me how a woman who has more money than God can receive credit as some sort of civil rights leader for whining about racism while saying some extremely offensive and stupid things that trivialize horrible crimes motivated by genuine racism like the murder of Emmet Till. That's "the same" thing as the death of drug-abusing thug Trayvon Martin? Seriously?
I'll say again that the tremendous success of this shallow and vacuous woman proves what a great country America is.
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