Directed by: Lee Daniels Starring: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, James Marsden Rating: Not Yet Rated Release Date: October 18, 2013
Trailer Score: 5/10
Thoughts by TSR: Between the anvilicious line about there being no tolerance for politics at the White House and Forest Whitaker playing a young, bright-eyed butler, this trailer had me chuckling within 20 seconds. They are trying to sell this as an incredibly inspirational story that deserves ALL THE OSCARS (an Oprah nomination wouldn't surprise me), but it just looks so delightfully silly. That doesn't mean Lee Daniels is shying away from serious topics, though. The horrors of racism are certainly on display, never more so than when a Ku Klux Klan member hurls a molotov cocktail at a bus in Birmingham. Wacky Presidential mimicry and horrific depictions of racial violence. Bless you, Lee Daniels.
We need to talk about these Presidents. The only one I buy into at all is James Marsden's JFK. That feels like it could be a legitimate performance (Minka Kelly from "Friday Night Lights" is playing his wife Jackie, because what?!). Other than that they range from weird – bold decision to have Alan Rickman playing a wax statue of Ronald Reagan – to weirder – also bold to have John Cusack play Richard Nixon as Hillary Van Wetter from Daniels' The Paperboy. Shame the trailer deprived us of hearing Rickman's Reagan voice, but they have to get butts in the seats somehow. We're also given glimpses of Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower and Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, both of which feel bizarre. Also, I was just looking at the film's IMDb page and there is an actor playing Barack Obama! Once again: bless you, Lee Daniels.
The Butler looks to simultaneously be the best and worst film of 2013. If this wasn't Lee Daniels we were talking about, I'd be worried about it living up to the trailer. Luckily it is, so I'm going to be keeping the faith.