A young man witnessing the horrors of plantation life in the 1920s South escapes to learn the trade of a house servant. Soon he finds a post in the White House, leading a life of passivity while serving no less than seven presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan. Meanwhile, against his wishes, his eldest son become a participant in the key events of the ever evolving Civil Rights Movement. With the struggle that ensued in the titling of this film (there is also an early Warner Brothers short of the same name), Lee Daniels may as well have gone with the title Forrest Gump: The Civil Rights Years, with his character's frequent presidential encounters and ubiquitous historical presence. The Butler is an overly preachy and pious movie with so many conflicting ideologies, which is well made nonetheless and enjoyable for its performances, headlined by Forest Whitaker who again demonstrates what a thoughtful and powerful actor he is. Oprah, in a rare acting gig, is given an underdeveloped character to work with (all we get is that she is a bored, drunk, and neglected housewife), but I thought her performance was solid nonetheless. Also excellent are the actors playing their sons, namely David Oyelowo (36 years old playing a high school teenager in early scenes) and Elijah Kelley, Lenny Kravitz as a fellow White House servant, and Terrence Howard playing a shifty family friend. Also, the presidential casting is gimmicky and irritating (John Cusack as Nixon, gimme a break) and should have been handled with better consideration.