All boxing films come down to three storylines, or all three wrapped in one—get beaten, get angry, get back to the top. Eighty years have passed since Wallace Beery made The Champ and Southpaw doesn’t try to rewrite the formula. It’s not a surprise, Barton Fink broke himself that way.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler is an intensely silly film, but all things considered, it’s silly for unexpected reasons. A movie that offers up the image of John Cusack playing President Richard Nixon, with the only distinction between Cusack’s normal visage and his Nixonian veneer being a Pinocchio-like nasal extension, should have its silliness all sewn up in such goofy celebrity casting. But instead, what makes Lee Daniels’ The Butler almost entertainingly ridiculous is less the eclectic, deliberately weird cameos and more a flat, sappy, and inconsistent-to-the-point-of-being-schizophrenic script that very badly wants to tie its title character to Important Events of the 20th Century without fleshing said character in at all.