For Butter or for worse
by Sam Kelley
Published October 25, 2012
“Butter” is a hilarious, over-the-top, slapstick movie meant to shed light upon the southern-life of America (or lack-there of).
The plot of the story is centered around the sculpting of butter, obviously a fairly silly topic, and how three women’s lives are intertwined and lead them to enter the butter sculpting contest. The movie attempts to make itself out to be more important than it is, and ends up taking on too many themes to sustain and support for a full length film.
Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner) has been defined by Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell), her husband, and his supreme success as a butter sculptor for the past 15 years of her spectacularly simple life. She lives, breathes, but does not eat (at least it doesn’t look like she does) butter. All her life she has backed Bob with the faith that only a Republican type, good ‘ol, religious woman could sustain. But when her husband is asked to “hand the reigns over” and allow for a new champion to emerge, Laura decides to take competing into her own hands. Out of disgust and contempt for his wife’s selfishness, Bob Pickler does what any man would do – hire a hooker (Olivia Wilde). From here a series of unfortunate events and circumstances leads to a surprise butter sculpting contestant. All the while a 10-or-so year old African-American Destiny (Yara Shahidi) decides to enter the contest and stirs up a storm.
While the movie boasts a fantastic array of highly offensive humor that Americans seem to crave, it’s less than satisfactory. The movie attempts to bash the Republican party, document a mini anti-slavery movement and invoke deep thought, but ends up being a few funny moments and quotes that somehow got strung together using the theme of “butter.” The movie is constantly moving in different directions and in different parts. And while all these directions are interesting and possibly thought provoking, it is simply too much for one film to handle. The movie ends up looking shallow and fragmented as a whole.
Another problem in the film is the characters; Destiny is too cute, Laura is too mean to relate to (while repeatedly trying to be relate-able), Brooke is a complete mystery, Kaitlen Pickler (Laura and Bob’s daughter) is simply too attractive to have on stage for a mere 10 minutes and Destiny’s parents go back and forth between perfect and mentally incapacitated at the seemingly oddest of moments. The actors aren’t the problem themselves, it was the incoherent plot that they were given.
All in all the movie is a good laugh, the cast is funny (though entirely shallow) and the audience is left in generally good spirits (though slightly dumber than before). But, the messages that the plot is attempting to convey is entirely convoluted.
See Levi Schoeben’s Review of the Palo Alto Square Theater