Yes, indeed. This is a movie about butter — a butter sculpting competition to be precise. Not something you see all that often, right? But I have not gone out of my way to search one out either. The movie gives you a glimpse into this odd state fair craft, through a somewhat funny little movie with a surprisingly all-star cast. Jennifer Garner plays Laura, wife of long-time celebrity state champion butter sculptor Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell from Modern Family.) When the butter powers-that-be decide that someone else needs to win and it is time for Bob to step aside, Laura’s world as VIP wife crashes around her. So she decides to enter the competition herself. But her biggest rival turns out to be a cute little, 10-year-old black foster child named Destiny (Yara Shahidi).

To complicate things a bit further, Bob has been going to a strip club and sleeping with one of the girls (Olivia Wilde) who now is coming after him for money, and who really can’t stand his wife. And Laura is willing to do anything to win, even sleeping with her old beau, Hugh Jackman in a very odd and disappointingly lame role. So you have 3 story lines coming together — stripper with a vengeance, foster kid with a dream, and butter megalomaniac housewife. Butter kind of has the same feel as some of Christopher Guest’s ensemble comedies (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman ), but doesn’t get that satirical tone quite right. Laura is an uptight, self righteous narcissist who bears a striking resemblance to Sarah Palin, but the rest of the town folk are pretty much caricatures.

Yes, there are some funny bits. Bob’s oeuvre of butter sculptures includes Newt Gingrich on horseback and Schindler’s List. And there is a fun scene with Destiny’s foster dad (Rob Corddry) where they discuss the worst things that could happen if she enters the contest. But Butter isn’t a great movie. It is entertaining in a very light way. Mostly it feels like good actors wasted on a script that could have been really funny, but is only good. I wouldn’t run out to see it, but once it starts streaming on Netflix, it is the kind of movie that doesn’t take a lot of effort, and is funny and sweet in parts.

One thought on “Butter”
  1. Arty and I debated (a bit) as to whether ‘Butter’ is a mainstream flick or an arty one. The jury is still out – but I agree wholeheartedly with her review. The film has some fun moments and a talented cast, but ultimately falls flat. Perhaps my post-debate political hangover clouded my enjoyment of the film. Who needs political satire when the real deal plays like an SNL skit? Fans of the mockumentary genre may be inclined to give this film a shot. But I suspect that most movie-goers will decline to spend their bread on ‘Butter’.

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