The Good: Funny, Quirky, Decent acting
The Bad: Somewhat predictable plot progression.
The Basics: A ten year-old girl takes on the horrible wife of the reigning butter sculptor in Iowa in Butter!
I am always amazed by how some films manage to assemble an impressive cast without my ever hearing about the finished movie. I swear, half the independent films that are out there would do better if only people knew they existed. I don’t even recall how I heard about Butter before I sat down to watch it today. And yet, Butter has a pretty amazing cast and is a clever, funny film.
Led by Jennifer Garner and Ty Burrell, Butter is an independent film that solidly entertains. Fleshed out by the likes of Alicia Silverstone, Ashley Greene, Olivia Wilde, Rob Corddry, and Hugh Jackman, Butter uses the wealth of talent that shows up for it remarkably well.
A year before Laura and Bob Pickler find themselves in Iowa running for office, Bob is muscled out of his fifteen years of butter sculpting success. His wife is unwilling to go quietly into obscurity and raises a fuss. When she catches Bob with a stripper/prostitute, Brooke, Laura decides to enter the annual contest herself.
Paralleling Laura’s journey is Destiny, a young black orphan who is taken in by Julie and Ethan. She illustrates a real artistic aptitude, but is supported by Ethan and her school teacher to apply herself. Ethan encourages Destiny to enter the county’s butter sculpting contest. When Brooke enters as well, the contest takes a very ugly turn. Impressing her foster parents, Destiny uses butter sculpting as a social commentary as well as an artistic outlet, winning contest after contest.
Butter is hilarious for its awkward moments. The scene where Destiny and Ethan sit outside in the car coming up with the worst things that could happen if she enters the contest is laugh-out-loud funny. Yara Shahidi (Destiny) has a wonderful sense of comic timing and plays off the far more seasoned Rob Corddry (Ethan) expertly. Corddry and Alicia Silverstone play a married couple exceptionally well and they seem like plausible foster parents to Shahidi’s Destiny. Shahidi explodes onto screen as a vibrant young talent who successfully carries most of the film. Responding to the foul-mouthed admonishments of Olivia Wilde’s Brooke, Shahidi has a great poker face.
As far as acting goes, Ashley Greene steals her scenes as Kaitlen, the bratty teenage step-daughter of Laura. Hugh Jackman has little more than a cameo, but playing off him allows Jennifer Garner to deliver one of her funniest lines of the film (“He slammed into something he shouldn’t have slammed into”).
The film is somewhat predictable, quickly turning from a meandering narrative where butter sculpting is peripheral to the family life of two weird Iowan families into a war of wills where an adult becomes to determined to beat a ten year-old at a contest. It is funny, surprisingly clever and thoroughly enjoyable for anyone who likes awkward, audacious comedies that do not play it safe.
For other works with Rob Corddry, please visit my reviews of:
Hot Tub Time Machine
I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry
Failure To Launch
For other movie reviews, please visit my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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