(2013) (Forest Whitaker, David Oyelowo) (PG-13)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Drama: A black man serves as a butler in the White through eight presidential administrations, all while becoming further estranged from his Civil Rights activist son.
- Having grown up in the 1920s in the deep South where his father was murdered by a white man who raped his mother, Cecil Gaines (FOREST WHITAKER) has long-lived the life of a black servant. The fact that he can do his job well and yet not react to anything non-service related -- such as racist comments from white people -- has landed him a job at a nice hotel in 1957 Washington, D.C. That position eventually gets him noticed and he's called to work at the White House as a butler.
Under the watchful eye of maitre d' Freddie Fallows (COLMAN DOMINGO) and head butler Carter Wilson (CUBA GOODING JR.), Cecil begins working alongside other black butlers such as James Holloway (LENNY KRAVITZ) serving President Dwight D. Eisenhower (ROBIN WILLIAMS). Over the years and through subsequent elections, that presidential list includes the likes of John F. Kennedy (JAMES MARSDEN), Lyndon B. Johnson (LIEV SCHREIBER), Richard Nixon (JOHN CUSACK) and Ronald Reagan (ALAN RICKMAN), whose wife, Nancy (JANE FONDA), takes a liking to Cecil as do most of the Presidents.
But his dedication to work puts a strain on his marriage to Gloria (OPRAH WINFREY) who progressively turns to the bottle and company of her neighbor, Howard (TERRENCE HOWARD). At the same time, his Civil Rights activist son, Louis (DAVID OYELOWO), doesn't like him being a black servant serving white people, something not lost on Cecil who can't get his white boss, R.D. Warner (JIM GLEASON), to agree to equal pay and benefits for black employees like him.
While Cecil and Gloria's younger son, Charlie (ISAAC WHITE), doesn't have those same issues and willingly heads off to Vietnam, Louis gets deeper into the movement and its protests with his college classmate and girlfriend, Carol Hammie (YAYA ALAFIA). As his arrests mount and the years pass, Cecil never speaks up unless asked at the White House about such matters, all as he watches the various presidential administrations come and go.
- WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
- Those curious about the Civil Rights movement and/or who might be fans of anyone in the cast could be interested. Beyond that, it's highly unlikely.
- WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
- For some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking.
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