Forest Whitaker portrays Cecil Gaines, the man who worked his way up from being a childhood plantation slave to the highest level of butler within The White House … a gig that spanned 34 years and eight Presidents. The story is based on the real life story of Eugene Allen, who had a front row seat to dramatic historical events and major social changes… all while wearing white gloves and tuxedo.
While the movie has plenty of emotional moments, in my opinion it could have been even stronger had it committed more time to either Cecil’s long run in The White House or the father-son generational struggles between Cecil and his desperate-for-change son played with fire by David Oyelowo (from Freedom Rider to Black Panther). Instead there is much wasted time on superficial Presidential interactions and a needless side story of adultery involving Cecil’s wife (Oprah Winfrey) and his friend (Terrence Howard).
Director Lee Daniels obviously has many friends who wanted to be part of this one. The incredible cast includes Mariah Carey (making up for Glitter), Alex Pettyfer (as a brutal slave owner), Vanessa Redgrave (Cecil’s first serving trainer), Clarence Williams III (Cecil’s ultra cool mentor), Nelson Ellis as Martin Luther King, and Cuba Gooding Jr and Lenny Kravitz (as fellow White House butlers). The most blatant slap in the face of Conservatives comes from the casting of extreme Democrat John Cusack playing Richard Nixon and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. Other Presidents are played by Robin Williams (Dwight Eisenhauer), James Marsden (John F Kennedy), Liev Schreiber (LBJ), and Alan Rickman (Ronald Reagan). The constant game of spot the star is a bit distracting at times, but not as much as one might guess. It’s just a shame that most get very little story or screen time.
As for Oprah Winfrey, she is getting much love for her performance including some Oscar chatter. What I saw was a performance that was solid, but distracting due to the lack of aging in comparison to her husband (Whitaker). She changes very little (except for costumes) from the beginning until the very end when she definitely goes into heavy make-up for the Obama election. On a personal note, watching 1970’s era Oprah shaking her booty to “Soul Train” was an image I did not need.
Again, my favorite scenes were the ones between father and son … Whitaker and Oyelowo. Seeing these two generations struggle so much to understand each other and interpret the world in such different ways proved quite powerful. It’s always painful and embarrassing to re-live the horrible manner in which African-Americans were treated, but even moreso when it’s tied to a father-son relationship.
Just got back after an entire afternoon dedicated to the Hunger Games. I will be posting my opinion about the movie soon!!
Today is a little cold and it seems like is going to be like that all week but I don’t care. In less than three hours I’ll be at the movie theatre. Yes, that’s right!
Happy Hunger Games Day!
I’m so excited!! I have a feeling is going to be amazing. AMAZING! I am still wondering if I should upload anything about the movie after I watch it, without spoilers of course. But still… I feel like there’s something everybody should wait in a mix of nervousness and happiness, don’t listen to what other say about the movie. That’s what I have been doing so far, I want to see if the film meets my expectations of what I imagined the first time I read the book.
Ah! So nervous for some reason, ha ha!
Emmy winner Jake Hamilton sits down to talk with the stars of THE HUNGER GAMES — Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks and Donald Sutherland — only on JAKE’S TAKES!
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