Lee Daniels' The Butler is released today in US cinemas. Early reviews of the historical drama have been mixed although most suggest the film is definitely worth a watch.

Forest Whitaker and Oprah WinfreyForest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey at the L.A. premiere of The Butler.

The film has been praised by critics for being "both deeply affecting and blatant Oscar bait", according to Claudia Puig of USA Today. Whilst Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal wrote in his review "fiction merges with fact, and finally soars."

The Butler tells the story of Cecil Gaines, a butler who served eight presidents at the White House. His life forms a perfect narrative for the Civil Rights movement including the rise of Martin Luther King to prominence and the Black Power movement. 

Most critics have responded favourably to the film. Those who have some criticism have largely emphasised the positives of the historical epic, as Peter Travers of Rolling Stone commented "there's no denying the stumbles that mar this alternately riveting and risible historical epic." However, he continues by stating "Lee Daniels' The Butler holds you, provokes you and ultimately moves you." 

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda at the New York premiere of The Butler.

Indeed in a similar fashion, Ben Sachs of the Chicago Reader epitomised this train of thought by saying "the movie's a mess, but a unique and provocative one."

Mike LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle appears to have taken a lengthy liquid lunch before writing his reviews, as he not only criticises the script as "mostly silly", but claims that Lee Daniel's casting decisions are "the craziest and most laughable casting imaginable."

The film stars Forest Whitaker, as Gaines, who is the brilliant actor who brought Ugandan dictator Idi Amin to life in The Last King of Scotland.  Oprah Winfrey, won a Golden Globe for her performance as Sofia in The Color Purple, plays his wife Gloria. 

Watch the movie trailer for Lee Daniels' The Butler:

Watch more clips from Lee Daniels' The Butler on Contactmusic.

The two powerhouses are supported by the likes of John Cusack, James Marsden and Robin Williams who play some of the eight presidents Gaines serves. Not only are the men of the White House portrayed in the film but their families too. For instance Marsden takes on the role of President Kennedy with Minka Kelly as Jackie. Later, Jane Fonda plays Nancy Reagan with Alan Rickman as her husband Ronald. 

With such a stellar cast including award winner actors, LaSalle appears slightly unjustified in his criticism of this aspect of the film. 

Lee Daniels' The Butler is due to be released in US cinemas today (16th August). 

Minka Kelly
Minka Kelly at the New York premiere.