The Butler proves a decent, significant, but slightly stodgy affair. Its dignified restraint stifles its anger.
Trevor Johnston, Time Out, 2013-11-12
A high-minded, didactic, but irresistible entertainment ...
David Denby, New Yorker, 2013-09-02
Forest Whitaker imbues his part with immense dignity and the old-age makeup is effective showcasing Cecil during his later years.
James Berardinelli, ReelViews, 2013-08-18
[A] turbulent, emotionally overpowering movie.
Michael Sragow, Orange County Register, 2013-08-16
Winfrey is good, though, demonstrating yet again that she's an actress and not just a celebrity playing an actress.
Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor, 2013-08-16
A history lesson in violence and endurance. A sentimental journey. A tribute. Director Daniels and the dedicated cast of The Butler deliver all that.
Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post, 2013-08-16
"The Butler" mixes big issues and big people and real human life with surprising grace.
Tom Long, Detroit News, 2013-08-16
Forest Whitaker gives the performance of his career.
Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com, 2013-08-15
The director's sometimes absurd bravado-along with Forest Whitaker's grave, wise performance in the title role-is what gives this outsized and sometimes lumbering film its irrefutable emotional power.
Dana Stevens, Slate, 2013-08-15
Remarkable not for its "Forrest Gump"-itude but for its unerring social portrait of a black middle class torn by the stress-fractures of an era.
Ty Burr, Boston Globe, 2013-08-15
Both deeply affecting and blatant Oscar bait.
Claudia Puig, USA Today, 2013-08-15
Even at its worst, it prefers to stimulate rather than launch another noisy parade of stereotypes.
John Hartl, Seattle Times, 2013-08-15
The Butler is an inspiring and important summation of the black struggle.
Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2013-08-15
It's not an interpretation of actual history as much as it is a reduced revision of movie history.
Wesley Morris, Grantland, 2014-01-03
The Butler may be a sanctimonious cartoon, but it points to events in the civil rights struggle that were as grotesque and extraordinary as any fiction can invent.
Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail, 2013-08-16
It's too obviously a careful tour through American history, and while some sequences work - particularly the various attacks on civil-rights workers - too much of it feels as flat and cheap as a film strip.
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger, 2013-08-16
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" might have been titled "Lee Daniels' Forrest Gump" - its hero challenged morally rather than mentally, but watching history in Gumpian fashion, as a series of cameos viewed through a slightly clueless daze.
John Anderson, Washington Post, 2013-08-15
The movie's a mess, but a unique and provocative one.
Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, 2013-08-15
"The Butler" is a nice idea for a movie, but has a mostly silly script and some of the craziest and most laughable casting imaginable.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, 2013-08-15
Packed with stunt casting and distracting performances.
Mark Jenkins, NPR, 2013-08-15