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‘The Butler’ fact and fiction

August 20, 2013 - Jim Anderson
A trip to see the new box office hit “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is time well-spent.

Provided you’re willing to shrug off promotions and accounts that say it’s “inspired by a true story.”

Yes, there was a black man who worked 34 years in the White House, serving eight U.S. presidents from Truman to Reagan.

But it’s nearly laughable when Kevin Fallon of The Daily Beast fact-checks the man against the film and concludes the movie is “slightly fictionalized.”

Namely, the father-son conflict that is the heart of the film is invented, as are many other crucial underpinnings. To say “The Butler” is inspired by a true story is a little like saying “Mad Men,” works that way, too. After all, the TV show depicts some actual advertising campaigns from the ’60s.

Again, that’s not to say “The Butler” is not a good production. Forest Whitaker’s performance is Oscar-worthy. As a civil rights drama, the movie is alternately a gut-puncher and a patriotic uplifter.

Just tone down the “true story” pitches, please.



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