If there was ever a more ambitious film than "The Butler," we have yet to discover it.
"Precious" director Lee Daniels efforts to recapitulate — through the real-life eyes of a lone, stolid White House butler — pretty much the entire twentieth century as it related to the American Civil Rights Movement. With a cast list that reads like a flat-out roll call for the Walk of Fame, Daniels presents the working life of Cecil Gaines (real name: Eugene Allen), a man who served eight consecutive U.S. presidents during his career and witnessed history being made first-hand.
The first trailer for "The Butler" has now been released, and boy oh boy are we impressed with all the acute caricaturing going down here ... and all the feels we feel.
Forest Whitaker leads the cast as the apolitical Mr. Gaines, a man whose directive is to ghost around the Capitol without putting in his two cents as the business of the Oval Office is conducted before his very eyes by a string of Commanders in Chief: Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Jr., Liev Shreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan and Orlando Eric Street as Barack Obama.
Rounding out the impressive cast are Oprah Winfrey as Gaines' wife, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, Melissa Leo as Mamie Eisenhower, Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jesse Williams, Vanessa Redgrave, Mariah Carey (see, we told you there were a ton of names here), Alex Pettyfer as an apparent slave-driver, Lenny Kravitz, David Oyelowo, Nelsan Ellis as Martin Luther King, Jr., and, if you can believe it, several others.
"The Butler" will be serving up some smiles and probably some tears too this Oct. 18.