Friday, October 5, 2012

Talented Cast is Wasted in ‘Butter’

Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner) shows off her butter carving
skills in "Butter." Photo: The Weinstein Company

 MOVIE REVIEW 

Butter, the new comedy from the Weinstein Company, isn’t fresh. It’s been sitting on the shelf for a  year waiting to be distributed. By putting together Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Hugh Jackman, Ty Burnell, Alicia Silverstone and Rob Corddry in one flick, the outcome should have been a good quirky comedy, but instead, this one has gone rancid.

Butter is actually two movies, but only one worth watching. In a small Ohio town, Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell) is the undisputed champ of butter carving. For 15 years, he has been the town’s hero but has been asked to step down to give others a chance to compete. He is disappointed but he understands and does so. However his wife Laura, (Jennifer Garner), is outraged. She apparently lived off her husband’s fame and if he no longer carves butter, what is she to do?

Laura and Bob Pickler (Jennifer Garner and Ty Burrell) get
interviewed in "Butter."
To fight back, Laura, who has no experience in butter carving, decides to compete in the next year’s competition. Surprisingly, she is just as good at carving butter as her husband is. To get back at his wife for emasculating him, Bob cheats on Laura with Brooke (Olivia Wilde), a stripper/prostitute, but refuses to give her the money for her “services.” To retaliate, Brooke also enters the contest for some reason. Later, Laura cheats with a used car salesman (Hugh Jackman) to get him to a do a favor for her. All the time, Laura appears to be the very essence of perfect piety, but is actually a big time hypocrite. That is the bad story.

Ty Burrell, Jennifer Garner and Yara Shahidi in a surprising
touching moment in "Butter."
The other story is a sweet one that features Destiny, (Yara Shahidi), a young girl bouncing from foster home to foster home waiting for her “real” mother to find her. She winds up in the home of Ethan and Julie Emmet (Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone), who not only treat Destiny well, but actually love her. Destiny is also bitten by the butter-carving bug and wants to compete as well. She turns out to be really good and the perfect rival for Laura.

The second story is so much better than the first one, that the filmmakers should have scrapped the first story and just focused on the latter. The film could have been a family movie that was fun and creative. Instead, the package as a whole is a major disappointment. “Butter” is crammed with profanity and vulgar language as an excuse for comedy writing. There is a side story featuring Laura’s step daughter that goes nowhere. Every actor featured has done better work elsewhere. Note to Wilde: take this credit off your resume.

Unless the studio comes out with a short version of the second story, don’t waste your money or time on this one.

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