DVD Review: Butter

I’ve always been a big fan of Jennifer Garner, and her work in the comedy Butter once again proves why. I hadn’t heard much of anything about Butter when I watched it, and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of chuckle-worthy jokes that it delivered. This isn’t a laugh-out, sidesplitting comedy that you’ll be quoting at parties. It is however an enjoyable, lighthearted way to spend 90 minutes, and sometimes that’s all you’re looking for.

Right off the bat it’s clear that Butter is a satire of the world it’s portraying. It’s not an over-the-top satire, but the people involved are caricatures, and they all stay within their lines of what you’d expect them to do, and it works. Garner plays Laura Pickler, wife of butter-carving champion Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell), and the one who keeps the butter bus moving in small-town Iowa. She runs a butter camp, makes sure to continuously pimp out her husband’s abilities, and constantly pushes his name out there for jobs such as governor or mayor. Everything changes, however, when the higher ups in the butter carving community ask Bob not to compete after 15 years of success, and give someone else a shot.

Not one to back down, Laura takes it upon herself to enter, and keep the butter carving crown in the Pickler family, much to Bob, and his daughter Kaitlen’s (Ashley Greene) chagrin. Thinking it will be an easy win, Laura scoffs at any competition that’s thrown her way – that is until Destiny (Yara Shahidi) shows up. Destiny is a 10-year-old African-American foster child, who has just been placed with, as she puts it, “The whitest of the white people,” Jill and Ethan (Alicia Silverstone and Rob Corddry). Looking to find something she’s good at, Destiny decides to try out butter carving, which is something she seems to be a natural.

There’s lots of fun to be had here if you’re in the mood for it, though if you’re not, Butter will likely turn you off quite quickly. Garner plays Laura perfectly, with her never-back-down attitude, along with an “I’m better than everybody else” demeanor. She won’t take no for an answer, and keeps doing what she knows she’s good at, and that’s taking control of any situation she’s put in. This is the case when she finds out Bob is cheating on her with a stripper (Olivia Wilde), which she solves in the same manner any rational woman would.

The chemistry between the cast is what really drives this film home. The script, written by Jason Micallef, is solid, and the jokes are timed well enough that they usually aren’t expected. The reactions of Garner are spot on, and really add humour to many of the scenes – especially one between her and Wilde at the butter carving contest entry table. Speaking of Wilde, she’s got some great deliveries here as well, and nothing screams sexy like a stripper riding away on a bicycle in anger.

Burrell is perfectly cast as Bob, simply due to his ability to deliver a submissive type feeling around a stronger woman (much like he does at times on Modern Family) while also being passive aggressive in his own way. Again, he and Wilde have a great scene at the strip club, as she tries to get more money out of him, and he tries to feel an emotional connection to someone on some level.

Shahidi, Silverstone and Corddry are all really good together, and really make their characters feel like they’d be a family that would work. Corddry and Shahidi have a really touching scene outside of the butter contest entry, where Ethan tells Destiny why it’s good to imagine everything possible that could go wrong in a situation before you get into it.

There’s not much depth to Butter, but it works nonetheless. It’s a lighthearted fare, that’s easy to watch and fun to sit through. It’s not overly memorable, but at the same time, the feeling that it was enjoyable while you watched it remains, which may up the replay value, and overall satisfaction with the film. Still, even if it’s a one and done for some, it’s an entertaining one that gets some laughs, hits the right notes, and never tries to hard to be something its not.

The DVD transfer of the film looks good, with lively colours that help emphasize the tone of the story. There’s never any moments where things are overly dark, or shadowy, as even the night scenes are lit up well, which all help reflect the lighthearted feel and atmosphere. The sound transfers works well also, with the music and dialogue all coming through nicely.

There are two small special features found on the disc, with neither really being worthwhile. Though some may want to check out the gag reel, if that’s your sort of thing – even though this one in particular is lacking.

Deleted/Extended Scenes – As usual, each scene found here really would’ve slowed the pacing, or added unnecessary time to the film. There’s one scene in particular, with Jill and Ethan talking about how crazy the whole competition is after someone spray paints a Youtube link on their fence. Jill then expresses her frustration, and uncertainty as to whether or not she can handle being a parent, and the scene ends with the camera going over the fence to reveal Destiny having heard everything. Thankfully none of this was put into the film, as not only is it incredibly melodramatic and cliché, but it’s totally unnecessary and tries to add a deeper meaning than is needed for a film like this.

Gag Reel – This is roughly five minutes in length, and there aren’t any overly funny gags here, so it’ll likely be a pass for most after the first thirty seconds.

Butter is quite packed with starpower, so much so to the point where I forgot to mention Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, who plays Laura’s kooky ex-boyfriend, Boyd. While his role is minimal, he’s got a couple of great deliveries, especially when he’s praying. Overall, Butter is definitely a movie worth checking out if you’re in the mood for something deliciously fun that won’t clog your arteries.

Alliance Films presents Butter. Directed by: Jim Field Smith. Written by: Jason Micallef. Starring: Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Ashley Greene, Ty Burrell, Yara Shahidi, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry, Hugh Jackman. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released: December 21, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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