Lee Daniels' The Butler

Rated 2.0

Lee Daniels' The Butler was “inspired by true events” much like John Hinckley Jr. was “inspired” by The Catcher in the Rye. Actually, it's adapted from a Washington Post article about an African-American butler who served at the White House during some of the most turbulent times in recent history. Daniels expands that idea into a Gump's-eye view of the civil-rights era that is Oscar chum at its most pandering. Forest Whitaker, looking like an audio-animatronics figure at Disneyland Presents Great Moments With Lee Daniels' The Butler, plays Cecil Gaines, son of a murdered cotton farmer reborn through servitude. Whitaker is strong, as usual, but the U.S. presidents are portrayed in a series of distracting cameos by Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower and Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan.