Lee Daniels' The Butler

Director: Lee Daniels
Year Released: 2013
Rating: 2.0

Forrest Gump-ish portrayal of butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) as he goes from being a slave on a plantation to a slave in the White House, serving everyone from Ike (Robin Williams) to Ronnie (Alan Rickman) - meanwhile, in his own house, his sons appear to be heading in different directions ideologically (one becomes a Black Panther, one joins the military to fight in Vietnam). If there's a movie that can be accused of trying to cover entirely too much ground in too small a window it's this - even if you can look past the sometimes ridiculous casting choices (Rickman? John Cusack? Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan??), there still remains the awkward Linking Together of Significant Historical Moments, one following the other, in order to condense close to fifty years of American Turbulence into one neat little package, with subservient/'subversive' Gaines bearing witness to it all. The final scene of Gaines going to meet Obama suggests there has been a positive step forward in civil rights - there's no denying that - though Obama's election has hardly been a panacea for racism in this country.