Friday, October 5, 2012

Everything's Better with Butter

“Butter” the movie is finally getting a real release. The 2011 film played the film festival circuit last year (I saw it at last year’s Denver Film Festival) but is just now getting a commercial release. It opens today at the Westminster Promenade.

“Butter’ is not margarine or some other ersatz spread, it is the real deal: Very rich and very funny.

Bob (Ty Burrell) has been winning butter carving championships at Iowa State Fair forever. But when it is suggested that he step aside and give someone else a chance, he decides to retire. His frigid, control-freak wife, Laura (Jennifer Garner) is not happy. She sees Bob’s carving championships as the road to political success. Laura, with her frozen – butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth – smiles and social climbing, decides if Bob won’t compete, she will. Winning is everything.

Ah, but the monkey wrench.

An 11-year old African-American foster child named, without subtlety, Destiny (Yara Sahidi) arrives on the scene. How or where she learned to carve butter is anybody’s guess (willing suspension of disbelief comes into play here) but she is marvelous at it and an unexpected threat to Laura.

Garner is hilarious. But so is everyone else in this wonderful comedy. Brooke (Olivia Wilde) is a stripper who Bob (remember Bob?) has been ‘dallying’ also decides to enter the contest. She does this after Laura, who finds out about the ‘dalliance’, smashes into Olivia’s minivan which was the scene of the ‘dalliance’.

The contest is on and so are the laughs. If Laura is willing to ram another vehicle there it is clear that nothing is too extreme for her. She will not lose the competition.

This is a wonderful parody. It almost plays like a Christopher Guest Mockumentary, a tribute to the director, Jim Field Smith. It is interesting that the British Smith so adeptly satirizes the ‘American Heartland’ and its denizens but not in mean-spiritedly; the movie skewers liberals and conservatives alike but in a smiling, happy and bright way.

See the movie. If nothing else, you have to see those butter sculptures.

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