Butter (2012) Movie Review [6.1/10-Good]
Review by EW
The publicity stunt recently whipped up for Butter at the Toronto Film Festival worked like a charm: By extending an “invitation” to Minnesota Congresswoman and Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to “co-host” an Iowa premiere of the political satire, Harvey Weinstein and company cleverly grabbed media headlines, employing impish Michael Moore-style tactics to stake out a political position that’s presumably catnip to the movie’s left-learning and/or Democratic base.
Mission accomplished! But that still leaves Butter to cut through, and for my vote, the movie has the backfiring effect of making its liberal core audience look just as smug, self-righteous, and condescending as conservative opposition insists it is. The dairy product in the title refers to a butter-carving competition that climaxes in a showdown between a pageant-pretty, small-minded, scheming, conservative heartland wife with the vinegar-y name of Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner) and a talented, open-minded African-American foster child with the sweet, Beyoncé-like name of Destiny (Yara Shahidi).
Review by Film.com
Has there been a better political satire in the thirteen years since Alexander Payne’s “Election” hit theaters? 2006′s “Thank You for Smoking” may have been sharper with its wit, but it lacked the core sadness that drove its characters toward would-be glory. No, Tom Perrotta’s novel and Payne’s adaptation tapped into that sweet spot where small stakes and petty behavior intersect, so it’s hard to blame a newcomer like “Butter” for trying to mine the same turf for its own laughs.
Our backdrop this time? The very real world of competitive butter carving, wherein Iowa favorite Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell) is taking his leave after fifteen years as reigning champ, renowned for his sculptures inspired by works of art ranging from Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” to Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
Trophy wife Laura (Jennifer Garner) isn’t done with trophy collecting, though, and after catching Bob having a fling with a particularly brash stripper, Brooke (Olivia Wilde), she dives headlong into butter carving in order to preserve their good name. Out of spite for both Bob and his wife, Brooke follows suit, and each woman soon finds herself outmatched by Destiny (Yara Shahidi), an 11-year-old butter-carving prodigy who serves as the Obama figure to Laura’s Hillary Rodham Clinton/Sarah Palin amalgam.
Review by Emanuel Levy
A talented cast of appealing actors, including Jennifer Garner, Ty Burrell and Alicia Silverstone, try hard to bring life, audacity and humor to “Butter,” the wannabe biting satire which represents thedisappointing feature directing debut of Jim Field Smith. The film has been sitting on the shelves of the Weinstein Company for over a year. It received its world premiere last September at the Toronto Film Fest, where it played to a decidedly mixed response.
Harvey Weinstein is an avid movie lover and a shrewd marketing expert, so my guess is that the company did not know what to do with this v soft, not very clever socio-political satire, which is crude rather than rude.