Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: Butter

Labored anti-right-wing comedy begins with a ridiculous premise and arbitrarily piles up the outrageousness to a numbing degree.

Oct 4, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1364638-Butter_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

If ultra-silly is to your taste cinema-wise, then Butter should be right up your alley. The story revolves around a competition involving elaborate butter sculptures, which pits Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner), the insufferably self-righteous, right-wing wife of Bob (Ty Burrell), former champion, against seemingly their entire small, red-state Iowa town. Her competition includes Brooke (Olivia Wilde), a rapacious stripper Bob has taken up with and owes money to; Carol Ann (Kristen Schaal), a dippy cat lady and, most threateningly, Destiny (Yara Shahidi), a black, foster-parented ten-year-old girl with an uncanny knack for carving up buttery masterpieces.

Jason Micallef’s script is filled with comic fillips like a prize-winning sculpture of Newt Gingrich on a horse, which may strike some staunchly leftist viewers as hilarious, others as merely forced. You’re asked to swallow an enormous chunk of outrageousness masquerading as satire—starting with the premise itself—to enjoy this labored farce. Jim Field Smith’s direction is of a piece with the writing, doing little to counteract its heavy-handed, endlessly snarky agenda. The character of Destiny is especially tiresome: she is, in her way, a preternaturally calm, white-imagined p.c. stereotype of superior, intelligent perfection, but not above using the word “cracker” to describe all these frantic silly-billys surrounding her. At least the movie is handsomely photographed by Jim Denault.

Garner, as always, works too comically hard to prove that she is more than just a pretty face, and her busy, relentlessly angry interpretation of Laura lacks the demonic charisma which could make us somehow admire as well as loathe her. She makes Michele Bachmann seem like Marilyn Monroe here. Burrell rather phones in his performance as a dimmer version of his “Modern Family” harried Everyman character. Wilde enjoys herself playing a real sleazeball, but her lesbian involvement with Laura’s nubile stepdaughter Kaitlen (Ashley Greene) is a too-easy, unseemly bit of laddish wish-fulfillment. Schaal does her usual clueless, googly-eyed shtick. As Destiny’s latest in a long line of hapless foster parents, Alicia Silverstone is wasted, but Rob Corddry manages to quietly give the best performance in the film. Hugh Jackman pops up in a cowboy hat in what is little more than a cameo, performing stud service for Laura.


Film Review: Butter

Labored anti-right-wing comedy begins with a ridiculous premise and arbitrarily piles up the outrageousness to a numbing degree.

Oct 4, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1364638-Butter_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

If ultra-silly is to your taste cinema-wise, then Butter should be right up your alley. The story revolves around a competition involving elaborate butter sculptures, which pits Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner), the insufferably self-righteous, right-wing wife of Bob (Ty Burrell), former champion, against seemingly their entire small, red-state Iowa town. Her competition includes Brooke (Olivia Wilde), a rapacious stripper Bob has taken up with and owes money to; Carol Ann (Kristen Schaal), a dippy cat lady and, most threateningly, Destiny (Yara Shahidi), a black, foster-parented ten-year-old girl with an uncanny knack for carving up buttery masterpieces.

Jason Micallef’s script is filled with comic fillips like a prize-winning sculpture of Newt Gingrich on a horse, which may strike some staunchly leftist viewers as hilarious, others as merely forced. You’re asked to swallow an enormous chunk of outrageousness masquerading as satire—starting with the premise itself—to enjoy this labored farce. Jim Field Smith’s direction is of a piece with the writing, doing little to counteract its heavy-handed, endlessly snarky agenda. The character of Destiny is especially tiresome: she is, in her way, a preternaturally calm, white-imagined p.c. stereotype of superior, intelligent perfection, but not above using the word “cracker” to describe all these frantic silly-billys surrounding her. At least the movie is handsomely photographed by Jim Denault.

Garner, as always, works too comically hard to prove that she is more than just a pretty face, and her busy, relentlessly angry interpretation of Laura lacks the demonic charisma which could make us somehow admire as well as loathe her. She makes Michele Bachmann seem like Marilyn Monroe here. Burrell rather phones in his performance as a dimmer version of his “Modern Family” harried Everyman character. Wilde enjoys herself playing a real sleazeball, but her lesbian involvement with Laura’s nubile stepdaughter Kaitlen (Ashley Greene) is a too-easy, unseemly bit of laddish wish-fulfillment. Schaal does her usual clueless, googly-eyed shtick. As Destiny’s latest in a long line of hapless foster parents, Alicia Silverstone is wasted, but Rob Corddry manages to quietly give the best performance in the film. Hugh Jackman pops up in a cowboy hat in what is little more than a cameo, performing stud service for Laura.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Major Releases

Penguins of Madagascar
Film Review: Penguins of Madagascar

Frenetic vehicle for supporting players from the Madagascar films will entertain kids but prove a little wearying for their parents. More »

imitation game
Film Review: The Imitation Game

Terrific biopic about world-class mathematician and social misfit Alan Turing, who, in spite of a painful struggle with his homosexuality, helped the Allies break the code of the Nazis' Enigma machine. More »

Horrible Bosses 2
Film Review: Horrible Bosses 2

Good for a few laughs, but not much more. More »

Hunger Games - Mockingjay Pt 1
Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Darker, less action-packed first half of the final installment of the popular franchise moves from arenas to rubble aplenty as Jennifer Lawrence’s super-heroine is called upon to serve her beleaguered and much-destroyed nation as propaganda instrument and leader. Fans of the books and previous two films get a less flashy palette here, but the engaging characters and strong story return to stir interest for the scheduled November 2015 finale. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Penguins of Madagascar
Film Review: Penguins of Madagascar

Frenetic vehicle for supporting players from the Madagascar films will entertain kids but prove a little wearying for their parents. More »

imitation game
Film Review: The Imitation Game

Terrific biopic about world-class mathematician and social misfit Alan Turing, who, in spite of a painful struggle with his homosexuality, helped the Allies break the code of the Nazis' Enigma machine. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here