The Gist: A son of slaves grows up to become a butler to the US President in the White House. He will faithfully perform his duties across several administrations, all the while observing the changes in American politics and society that will deeply affect his family and his future.
Forest Whitaker delivers a stunning performance and leads a sprawling cast that includes Oprah Winfrey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Jim Gleason, David Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, and Jane Fonda (and even Mariah Carey in a blink and you miss it appearance).
At its most basic level, Lee Daniels' The Butler is an essential run-through of the most fundamental historical events that have shaped the United States of America and its citizenry. The rest (great acting, perfect recreation of costumes and locations) is gravy.
The Bottom Line: Based on factual events, Lee Daniels' The Butler is Lee Daniels' follow up to his beautiful Precious. While not as touching and affecting, it's still a good movie.