Lee Daniels' The Butler

2013 PG-13 1h 53m Blu-ray / DVD

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Lee Daniels' The Butler

2013 PG-13 1h 53m Blu-ray / DVD
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Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker delivers a powerful performance as Cecil Gaines, who served as the White House butler under eight presidents. His three decades of service unfold against a backdrop of unparalleled change in American history.
Blu-ray DVD Streaming
Widescreen 1.85:1
English, Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen 1.85:1
English, Spanish (Neutral)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio
PG-13 - Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.
age 13+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 13+
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age 13+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that Lee Daniels' The Butler is a sweeping look at the history of African-American life in the United States, as witnessed by a black butler (Forest Whitaker) who spent three decades working in the White House. Since the movie chronicles the history of the civil rights movement, there are many scenes that portray hate crimes -- like two lynched men hanging from a tree and a black sharecropper being shot for saying one word to his white boss. White Southerners are also shown raping, killing, shooting, burning, intimidating, and otherwise terrorizing black protesters. Adults smoke cigarettes and drink; one character is an alcoholic who has a drink in most of her scenes. There's also some language (one "f--k," plus "s--t" and many racial epithets) and kissing, as well as the suggestion of an affair. Audiences will get an overview of how various presidents felt about race relations, as well as the methods and ideologies of the civil rights movement.

Sexual Content

Married couples kiss and embrace on several occasions -- sometimes in bed. It's suggested that Gloria is having an affair with Howard, who kisses her. Louis is in love with Carol, but they're never shown doing more than kissing briefly. President Carter tells an off-color joke.


Many race-based hate crimes, including scenes that show two lynched black men hanging from a tree; a black sharecropper who's shot point blank for saying one word to his white boss; several scenes of white Southerners (including civilians, police officers, and the Ku Klux Klan) beating up, setting fire to, and otherwise terrorizing black civil rights activists; and the notorious D.C. riots of 1968. A cotton worker is raped (off camera). Jackie Kennedy is shown with blood covering her suit after her husband's assassination. Civil rights workers are shot at, burned out of their freedom ride bus, arrested, and ridiculed.


Occasional strong language includes "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "ass," "damn," "hell," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "oh my God," and many uses of racial epithets like the "N" word, "coon," and more. One use of "f--k."

Social Behavior

Cecil and Louis both show how necessary it is to stand up to injustice, even if it's risky or dangerous. The movie chronicles how each president dealt with issues of race and equal rights and stresses that there's dignity in a job well done.


Not too many brands are shown, except for Budweiser beer and a Lincoln Continental.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Adults drink a lot (particularly Gloria, who's an alcoholic) and smoke cigarettes (accurate for many of the time periods the movie passes through).

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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