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Trailer For Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' Suggests A Film That's Anything But A Lee Daniels Project

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 7, 2013 at 8:40PM

In watching this trailer, I actually found myself missing the Lee Daniels I've become accustomed to. If I didn't know that Daniels directed this, I would've been shocked to find out that he did.
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"The Butler."
"The Butler."

In watching this trailer, I actually found myself missing the Lee Daniels I've become accustomed to. If I didn't know that Daniels directed this, I would've been shocked to find out that he did. 

This plays so straight and narrow, and thus drab, with the heavy traditional Hollywood trailer soundtrack music, and scenes oozing with earnestness. 

I don't know... I'm not motivated to see it based on what I see here.

The stories around the making of the film just may be more interesting than the film itself. For starters, you might recall Harry Lennix, who said he was offered a part in The Butler, after reading the script, called it "N*ggerfied... Historical Porn."

And there was the fuss over a love scene between Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey that is said to have gotten out of hand. Although, it's a PG13 movie, so it couldn't have gotten that much out of hand.

Daniels did warn at Cannes last year, when The Paperboy premiered, that:

"I’m trying to keep it [The Butler] PG13 which is not easy for me. It’s very un-Precious and un-Paperboy... I can’t go into my bag of tricks on this one [...] I felt like I directed the film in handcuffs and a muzzle."

It sure looks like it to me.

I'd rather have Daniels go back to making his smaller, independent, envelope-pushing movies, instead of Hollywood tripe like this. At least, I find him more interesting as an artist, when he's working within those limits.

Regardless, I'm curious to see what a handcuffed and muzzled Lee Daniels work might look like, so naturally I will see the film. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. It is supposed to be a film that The Weinstein Company expects to push during awards season this year.

The Butler covers several decades in the life of Eugene Allen, the White House butler who served many presidents, and is loaded with a cast that includes: Forest WhitakerOprah WinfreyDavid Oyelowo, Colman DomingoJohn CusackAlan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Melissa LeoLiev SchreiberJesse Williams, Aml Ameen, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr and many more.

Music for the film is composed by the legendary Quincy Jones.

Laura Ziskin Production, The Butler is produced by Pamela Oas Williams, the late Laura Ziskin, Lee Daniels, and Cassian Elwes. It's executive produced by Hilary Shor and Adam Merims; and co-produced by David Jacobson.

For our thoughts on the film's script, and casting, read Vanessa's script review HERE, and Natasha's casting close-up of the film HERE.

Watch the trailer below:


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