Perhaps not Oscars material, but still pretty good.
While The Butler seemed like an early contender for Oscar contention, the early reviews suggest it may have fallen short in some areas. Praised were the performances, especially Forest Whitaker's, but criticized is the depth of this ambitious movie.
Forest Whitaker and Cuba Gooding Jr in The Butler
“Whitaker digs in deep and gives a marvelous under-the-skin performance; he seems to catch the very essence of a man who has spent his whole life trying not to be seen,” say Variety. “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,” The Guardian write in their review.
Entertainment Weekly call The Butler “An ambitious, sweeping period drama that manages to be incredibly affecting and feel as if the words ''For Your Consideration'' are stamped across every frame.” “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,” say Screen International.
This to-and-froing of reviews has culminated in a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning the next few days are vital. If the upcoming slew of critical responses agree with the naysayers, we could be seeing something near the 60% mark, but if Whitaker’s performances continues to charm, we’ll be approaching the mid-80’s.
Either way, it would appear as though The Butler is a solid effort, telling the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades, while chronicling the civil rights movement in America. Perhaps, though, it’s too much to try and tell both stories, entwined as they are.
Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey in The Butler