Greed. Blackmail. Sex. Butter. Are you hooked yet? OK, read on and give this a chance.
Butter stars Jennifer Garner and Ty Burrell as Laura and Bob Pickler. They live in a small town in Iowa and are Small Town Famous for Bob's skills as a butter sculptor. He uses pounds of butter and carves them into masterpieces. Word on the street is his carving of The Last Supper is better than the original. That's how serious this family and the town they live in take butter sculpting. But all good things come to an end, and at his 15th anniversary celebration of being the number one butter sculptor in town, Bob is asked to step out of the upcoming Iowa State Fair Mastery in Butter competition and give others a chance to win. This doesn't go over well with Laura, who decides, despite her lack of butter carving skills, to enter the next contest and win, no matter what it takes.
In our parallel story, we have 11-year-old Destiny with a special talent. She's an orphan who spent most of her life bouncing from one foster home to the next. She's so used to doing this, she never opens her suitcase full of clothes when first meeting the potential parents. It's not that she's a troubled child; she's actually very kind and well-mannered, but she's had the misfortune of being placed in homes full of people not fit to raise children. ("Weirdo white people," she calls them.) Finally, she is placed in a good home (the whitest people ever, she calls them), and her new, extremely excited parents are Ethan and Julie Emmet (Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone, respectively). Pretty soon we learn Destiny aspires to be a butter sculptor. Her supportive new parents sign her up for the contest, and it soon turns into a David versus Goliath story of butter carving.
What's so, so great about Butter is the ensemble of actors who play against their usual stereotype. We get a straight-up bitch out of Jennifer Garner. Her Pickler is a conniving stickler determined to win the contest, even if that means strong-arming judges into making them vote on another, unnecessary contest after she lost the first fair and square. Hugh Jackman strips himself of his mutant powers and good looks and completely embodies arguably one of the best A-list star attempts at being a bumbling redneck I've ever seen. His aloof Boyd Bolton owns a used car dealership, prays to God while sitting in his Lamborghini and calls Him "awesome" when he's finished asking for favors. Also, and this is important, if there are any ladies out there who would be thrilled to watch him utter the word "pussy," then this is the movie for you.
The last surprising performance comes from comedian Rob Corddry. He is always hilarious in his signature roles, usually as a scumbag or a cretin. But not in Butter. Here you will find a gentlemanly Corddry out to protect the new love in his life, his adopted daughter. There's one standout scene with the two of them during which he tells a nervous Destiny to imagine all the bad things that could possibly happen to her if she doesn't win the contest. Examples: she could die of a tragic butter overdose, there could be a rabid grizzly bear waiting to tear her face off or the place could be full of good-looking British vampires. His examples read morbid, but I promise it's completely endearing. It's his way of connecting with her in his loving and comedic way: "The worst thing that could possibly happen is you could lose this contest." This heartfelt scene, as well as watching Hugh Jackman call God "awesome" while praying (and asking for favors in a Lamborghini), are worth a ticket price alone.
We have a few other characters that bring so much life to this film. Olivia Wilde plays Brooke Swinkowski, a stripper hell-bent on getting her money from Bob, who drunkenly promises her a lot of money after a night of unpleasant sex in the back of a van ("Bob I'm going to shit on the hood over your car," she tells him, in her first attempt at collecting the money.) We also have Ashley Green, who serves as the Pickler's mother-hating, stripper Swinkowski-loving daughter. She's just discovered sexuality and the foul-mouthed stripper is her lustful target. Also, Kristen Schaal is in this film, too, as one of the butter sculpting contestants. Once again, she steals every scene she's in. This woman's comedy is untouchable.
But let's be honest here, Butter is not going to be an easy sell if moviegoers are unaware of the entire cast. It's called Butter, and it's about butter. Hopefully gushing reviews like this will convince folks to give this a chance. With a big cast of talented actors in a solid second feature from director Jim Field Smith, Butter does not disappoint.
P.S. This is your one and only chance to say, "OK Chase, I read your review. I'm going to see this movie. It butter be good," so use it while you can.
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