Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Jim Field Smith
Screenwriters: Jason A. Micallef
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Yara Shahidi, Ty Burrell
Screened at the 2011 Telluride Film Festival.
Butter gets off to a slow start but builds to a sort of aria of political incorrectness. To its great credit as a mainstream comedy release, there are moments where it genuinely doesn’t feel safe — when it feels like anything could happen. If there’s one thing I wasn’t expecting to see at Telluride this year, it’s Jennifer Garner as one of the two ostensible heroines of a movie about butter-carving competitions in Iowa giving an outraged speech about how she was “sorry” that she was born white and tall and pretty and not a “charity case with a baby and a mugshot,” and can we at least pretend that this is a meritocracy? Often very funny — I particularly dug Olivia Wilde as the town skank out for blood against Garner’s vicious social climber — and with an unexpectedly coherent (if also obvious) point of view on the Sarah Palin phenomenon: it’s not political, the film suggests, so much as a result of canny populists stroking the egos of folks who don’t have a whole lot going for them. I have my issues with Butter – it’s uneven, it never connects emotionally (not for lack of trying), and it’s frustratingly non-committal regarding whether Garner’s character is redeemable — but it has balls and a whole bunch of good jokes.
— Eugene Novikov