Hey, that’s one way to stop obesity in our country. Make butter sculptures!
A young orphan named Destiny (Yara Shahidi) who, after being adopted by a Midwestern family (Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone), discovers she has an uncanny talent for butter-carving. She eventually finds herself up against the ambitious wife of the retired reigning champion named Laura (Jennifer Garner) in a town’s annual butter-sculpting contest.
Director Jim Field Smith surprised the hell out of me two years back when he showed-up with what was yet, another typical rom-com in the name of She’s Out of My League. What surprised me about this flick was not just how it was actually funny, it had some nice insight to relationships and the way dudes and girls are looked at when they’re both together. It surprised the hell out of me, even if the formula didn’t. However, Smith is right back to formula this time around and this time, it’s not so commendable.
The problem with Smith’s direction here is that he never seems to get as dirty or nasty as he wants to get. The satire is so freakin’ obvious it’s not even funny (seriously, it isn’t). Basically, by showing us this butter-sculpting competition, Smith is poking fun at corporate America and how they look at the world in their own eyes. Is it a smart idea? Of course. Is it executed well at all? Nope, not at all and I think the main problem with that is because Smith plays it a bit too safe with a story that could go anywhere (and sometimes does), but ends up going along the lame-o types and formulas we have come to expect from movies of this same nature.
Playing it safe is what bothered me about this film, but the other element that seemed to annoy me was how the story never followed a pattern. For instance, it’s comedy would seem to come out of nowhere and be that raunchy, dirty-type of comedy that pleases Apatow fans only, but then suddenly changes itself into a sappy, corny story about a young girl who’s trying to make sense of the world. At some points, it’s edgy, and at others, it’s plain and soft to the point of where you almost feel like they want to give you a hug. This comes in the way of all of these stories that never really seem to have any meaning, other than to just be there and make use of their big-names on the posters. Olivia Wilde’s character, as amazing as she may be here, still did not need to even be in the movie except for about the first 5 minutes were with her, so every other time she shows up, it seems like over-kill and Smith’s only way to get comedy out of a tired-plot.
That’s not to say that this film isn’t entertaining, because it really is and with the laughs that work, they really do work. The first 45 minutes or so work because it gets us ready and prepped-up for the whole butter competition, shows us the goofy characters, and gives them enough characterization to make us feel like we’re in for a big and wild surprise. Sadly, that only stays with us for about 20 minutes or so, but for those 20 minutes, I was laughing and had a good time.
The main reason why I laughed a good amount of times was mainly because of the cast and what they’re able to do with some caricatures. One of the biggest surprises of this whole cast was Rob Corddry who really dials it down here as Destiny’s adoptive father. What I liked so much about Corddry here is that there is a nice feeling of warmth and support in his character, that comes through in every frame. Corddry is usually that one guy in raunchy comedies that seems way too over-the-top to even be considered entertaining or funny, but here, he shows that it sort of just comes naturally to him and it makes me wonder what else this guy can do with his career. Maybe he can pull-off a drama in the near-future, or maybe he’s just going to stick to R-rated comedies that barely get him noticed as anything else but that crazy, loud bald guy that seems like he’s high all of the time. Maybe that is the case, but hey, I’m not judging.
The one star in this film that did not work-out as well as Corddry did for me, was Jennifer Garner as Laura. Here’s my thing with Garner, the girl is good when it’s her in drama, but when she tries to step her foot into comedy, she falls flat on her face and never seems to get up. That is exactly the same case we have here with her character, Laura, as she’s just another one of those self-righteous bitches, that nobody likes, nobody wants to see, and 9 times out of 10, doesn’t even laugh at because she’s so freakin’ evil. Laura isn’t as evil as the film may want you think, since the only real bad thing her character even does is lie, but Garner tries so damn hard to push her character to those bitch-levels, that it seems forced and never like Garner really has what it takes to make an entertaining bitch. She’s insufferable to watch and I think that Hollywood just needs to stop throwing this girl’s comedic-skills (or lack thereof) down our throats and just realize one, simple damn thing: Jennifer Garner, aka Mrs. Ben Affleck, is not funny! Never has been, and never will be so stop giving her big comedic roles where we need to laugh at her to enjoy ourselves. It just doesn’t work.
Consensus: Butter has some delightful moments and features a fine cast, except for Jennifer Garner who is annoying to watch and listen to, but never goes down to those deep deaths of hell that they call satire and decides to play it safe with it’ story and what it is essentially poking jokes at.