“I like to remind you all what this competition is about. It is about excellence in butter.”
It’s trophy wife vs. Little Orphan Annie in this dysfunctional dark comedy about America’s leading cause of high cholesterol. Equipped with an impressive cast of Hollywood’s elite, Butter does it’s best to entertain; however, the collaborative efforts of Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde, and Ty Burrell may not be enough to boost a lot of the more subtle comedy of the film; I know it wasn’t enough for me.
A shared narration from the two competitors, Laura Pickler (Garner, Alias) and Destiny (Yara Shahidi, Alex Cross) gives a sense of their lives before the competition. Laura is the wife of reigning butter mastery champion Bob Pickler (Burrell, Modern Family), and that title means everything to her, more than her marriage. After a successful fifteen year run, Bob is asked to step down from competing to give others a chance. Though he agrees, Laura is less accepting. With a failing marriage due to her husband’s affair with a local stripper (Olivia Wilde, Cowboys & Aliens), the possibility of losing the prestige and all her big plans for the future being destroyed, she opts to enter the competition herself and will stop at nothing to win.
Destiny is a ten-year-old girl who has grown up in foster care; bounced from one home after another, she remains hopeful that one day her mother will return for her. During a viewing of the previous year’s winning butter sculpture, Destiny displays a natural ability in butter sculpting when she improves on Bob’s sculpture. After being placed with new foster parents (Alicia Silverstone and Rob Corddry), Destiny decides to enter the competition.
As comedies go I found the film to be pretty lame, the jokes coming off more awkward than funny. Sure, there were moments where I managed a chuckle, but for me it isn’t quality comedy unless you can make me laugh out loud, and sadly Butter didn’t deliver that for me.
The film did have its moments. Jennifer Garner was excellent and really committed to the role of the obsessive and overbearing trophy wife who inspired fear in the townspeople. Some of the characters in the film such as Kaitlen, the Picklers’ daughter, served no real purpose, and the film probably would have played the same without her. Yara Shahidi was charming and very endearing and perhaps owned the line in film that made me truly laugh when she was in her new classroom and she realized that all her classmates and teacher were staring at her (trust me, you’ll know it when you hear it). Garner and Burrell work well together, but the real onscreen duo had to be Shahidi and Corddry; the banter between the two of them was the high point of the film. Not only that, the dynamic between these two actors as foster father and daughter contributed some of the only truly touching moments of the film.
I think all the actors fit their roles and did their job; the dialog just didn’t work for me; I didn’t find it as funny as I expected it to be. It would be okay to watch on an occasion when you found yourself with nothing to do, but I just think it could have been better.