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Trailer for All is Bright (2013)

All is Bright Poster

All is Bright (2013)


In recent years, there have been more and more unhappy Christmas related movies.  The holidays bring out the best and the worst in people and sometimes it helps to watch a not so happy holiday movie.  This year’s option is All is Bright.

The film is a dark comedy about a recently paroled man named Dennis (Paul Giamatti) who has a lot of trouble trying to find a job because of the poor economy and the fact that he just got out of jail.  Dennis takes a job selling Christmas trees with his old friend Rene (Paul Rudd) and the Christmas season proves to not be so bright.

The film is directed by Phil Morrison and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Sally Hawkins, Amy Landecker, Tatyana Richaud, Colman Domingo, Nikki M. James, and Morgan Spector.

Giamatti usually does not disappoint, but Rudd can be questionable.  Regardless, this film looks like it will have some good moments of laughter.  It definitely doesn’t look like your average Christmas movie.

The movie was released in select theatres on 10/4/13 and has been on demand since 9/10/13.

So, why am I telling you about this movie now?  I am telling you about this now because I have a feeling that this will be one film that slips through the cracks.  Most people who actually see this movie will probably be watching it on DVD.  It seems to me like it was released too early.  I think that it might have done okay in theatres if they had released it in November and done a better job marketing it.

I have noticed a lot more movies this year that have had trouble making it to wide release.  Is direct to DVD or on demand the way of the future?  I hope not.  It would be nice to have a lot of options of movies to see in theatres, instead of simply the films that should make money for production companies.  There were so many big blockbuster films that flopped this year and that is hurting the movie business more than people realize.  I blame the lack of originality and sequel overdose for this problem.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)

The movie should have just been called The Butler, but director Lee Daniels somehow felt that he had to put his name in the title.  I’m not sure if there is a real reason for his name being in the title, but to me, it just seems a little narcissistic.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is very, very lightly based on the life of Eugene Allen.  The film changed Allen’s name to Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker).  The film paints a pretty disturbing picture of the struggles and pain that Gaines and his family faced during his childhood and throughout his life as a butler at the White House for 34 years.  The movie showed how the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement had a major impact on his life.

Lee Daniels' The Butler Whitaker serving Williams

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Cuba Gooding Jr., David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, John Cusack, James Marsden, Robin Williams, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Clarence Williams III, John P. Fertitta, Colman Domingo, Yaya Alafia, Minka Kelly, and Nelsan Ellis.

The movie modifies many of the facts about Allen’s life in order to make it more entertaining and therefore less true.

I left the film wondering just how much of it was true.  After doing a little bit of research, I found out a number of things about the movie that are completely fiction.  It’s a little upsetting to me how this film tries to pass itself off as based on a true story.  I don’t want to spoil anything about the movie for anybody, but let me just say that a lot of it is pure fiction.

Lee Daniels' The Butler Whitaker Gooding Jr.

I really felt for the main characters after seeing what they went through, and thinking how terrible things were for them.  After finding out that a lot of the details in the movie are made up, I question just how honest the rest of the movie is.  I feel like I was a little duped.  I felt bad for Cecil Gaines, but that was not even his real name.  I felt bad for some of the things that Gaines went through, but found out that some of those things didn’t even happen.  Because the writers and director played so fast and loose with the facts and tried to pass it all off as truth, they succeeded in ruining the movie for me.

The film was very slow and dragged on at times.

There were so many big names in this movie that a few of them were underused.  A lot of the supporting characters do not get fully developed.  They are in the film in almost cameo-like roles, and then they are gone.

Forest Whitaker is superb in the lead role.  His performance alone is enough to make the film worth watching.  Even at the film’s slowest and almost boring parts when the movie seems like it is unraveling, Whitaker is enough to bring everything back together again.


Oprah Winfrey was miscast.  Her character hardly seemed believable and this took away from my enjoyment of the film.  The rest of the supporting cast all did a fine job.

Overall, I felt like the movie was too slow at times.  If they had trimmed some of the fat and gotten rid of a few scenes, the film could have been better.  I am a little annoyed at how many facts were changed as they are trying to pass this movie off as inspired by a true story.  Most people read “true story” and think that it is true.  If they dressed this movie up to make it more entertaining, I cannot imagine how slow it would have been if they had stuck more to the facts.

The Butler (2013) Forest Whitaker (Screengrab)

Setting all of the things about this film that I did not like aside, Whitaker and most of the rest of the cast all do a great job.  It’s fun to see all of these big names in the same movie even if some of them are not in it long enough.  The film does an excellent job of showing people overcome hatred and violence and that is always a good shot to the arm for the human spirit.

I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Rent.