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A young orphan (Shahidi) discovers her uncanny talent for butter sculpture in an Iowa town where her adoptive family lives. The talent pits her against the ambitious wife (Garner) of the reigning champion (Burrell) in the annual butter sculpture competition.
For more about Butter and the Butter Blu-ray release, see Butter Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 4, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Garner, Yara Shahidi, Ashley Greene, Alicia Silverstone
Director: Jim Field Smith
» See full cast & crew
Butter Blu-ray Review
"Churn" this one away.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 4, 2012
This is the cutthroat story of greed, blackmail, sex, and butter.
Butter serves up an endless buffet of empty cinema calories. The picture delights in telling an unimaginative story of a vengeful, power-driven woman that exists behind a cheery, wholesome guise in the middle of small town America that itself is really not nearly as innocent as it looks. It's a movie about deceptive characters and the great lengths to which they will go to secure their place of prominence in society, be it in the city or the supposedly quieter and less chaotic small towns of rural America. It's also the tale of innocence versus delusion, of purity versus spite, of real talent pulled from the heart against the drive for external reward. It's a decent if not tired premise with which Butter does nothing novel. It's a movie that fails to sufficiently elevate its characters, to make them either whole or worth emotional investment. It plays only to extremes and to the detriment of the core story. There's a better movie in Butter, but the picture spends too much time on the outside looking in to incorporate anything but the transparent basics of a superior story.
Bob and Laura Pickler (Ty Burrell and Jennifer Garner) seem like the perfect Midwestern couple. Locally, they're known as "the royal family of butter carving." Bob's a natural at the little-known and under-appreciated art of turning large quantities of butter into sculptures the likes of which would make Michelangelo jealous. Ever since a young age when Bob first carved his deceased calf in memoriam, he's honed his skill and created some of the finest works of butter art the world has ever seen. Now, he's the annual shoe-in to take home the top prize at the state fair. His latest masterpiece: a buttery recreation of the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting The Last Supper. However, fair officials believe Bob's had his time in the sun. They want him to step down from competition and "give someone else a shot." Bob's not particularly distraught by the idea and even seems to embrace it, in his own way, but Laura isn't going to take her husband's demotion -- and her family's drop in state prominence -- lightly.
Laura takes it upon herself to keep the Pickle family name on the tips of every Iowan's tongue by entreating the butter sculpting contest herself; after all, how else will an otherwise anonymous homemaker become Governor? Little does she know that she'll be facing stiff competition from three very unlikely sources. First, there's Carol-Ann Stevenson (Kristen Schaal), a cat lady with little artistic talent who's the least of Laura's worries. There's also Brooke (Olivia Wilde), a local bad-girl nude dancer in whose arms Bob had once found sexual comforts. Now, she's out for his wad of cash and she'll go so far as to enter the butter sculpting contest to humiliate him if he doesn't pony up the bills. Last, but certainly not least, is little ten-year-old Destiny (Yara Shahidi), a longtime foster child who's been in-and-out of various homes and accidentally discovers an uncanny gift for butter carving when she tries her hand at putting the finishing touches on Bob's The Last Supper masterpiece. Her newest parents, Ethan and Julie Emmet (Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone), encourage her to pursue her dreams, a challenge made all the more difficult by the spiteful and self-centered Laura who will do anything -- and anyone -- to make sure she earns that first-place ribbon.
Butter spends more time both overtly and clandestinely poking fun at and poking holes in small-town people and values than it does building up a more serious story with superior themes. The specter of a better movie looms with every shot and particularly with each second of screen time that the criminally underdeveloped Destiny brings smiles to audience faces. Butter makes her character nothing more than an adorably generic foil for the unlikable Laura Pickle. Destiny is never explored to satisfaction, her gifts never studied in detail, her history only given cursory mention. The result is a movie with a likable hero but one who is only likable because she stands opposite the villain and because she's a cute little girl (and Yara Shahidi plays the part with an irresistable charisma, even considering the limitations of the scripted character). The insipid character roster, then, yields both bland drama and incomplete arcs. Whether it's Bob's emotionless submission to the whims of others to give up on his art or the abandoned Kaitlin Pickle whose story literally rides away with no resolution, the movie works on generalized convenience, anything to advance the story rather than solidify it. It's one of the more disappointing films of the year given the name cast and mostly original story backdrop, but Butter quickly melts away and leaves little of value behind.
Butter Blu-ray, Video Quality
Butter's high definition transfer is oh-so-tasty. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray presentation dazzles at every turn. Light grain accentuates the transfer's beautiful film-like qualities. Textures are natural and crisp; the image is very well-defined even through large crowds of people and around complex landscapes and interiors. Clarity never wavers, details never appear less than true to the source, and facial and clothing textures are as natural as can be. Colors are bold and true but not aggressive. From bright blue skies to lush green grasses and considering all the wonderful shades that pop up in the fair sequences and within the more closed-in confines of various interiors seen throughout the film, the palette never fails to dazzle in every frame. Black levels remain perfect throughout, and flesh tones never drift towards any extreme. The print is clean and no other anomalies are noted. This is flawless high definition transfer from Anchor Bay.
Butter Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Butter makes its Blu-ray debut with a pleasant DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. As one might expect, this is largely a dialogue film with moments of energy scattered throughout. The spoken word plays cleanly and evenly, with rock-solid intelligibility and constant center placement, save for when the film calls for, and the track delivers, a wider presentation when characters address others through microphones and within more spacious environments that allow for a fun little bit of reverberation. Nice, natural ambience -- crowd noise, nighttime crickets -- aid in the delivery and authenticity of several scenes, but the track never really offers much in the way of aggressive discrete or directional effects. Heavier singularities, like one automobile slamming into another, offer suitable power and presence. Music plays with the expected cleanness, accuracy, and front-spade spacing. There's also a subtle but critical low end support that rounds it into shape. On the flip side, there's little energy to a potent striptease song heard in the first act. Overall, however, the track more often than not gets it not just right, but perfect. For this sort of film, it would be difficult to get much better.
Butter Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Butter contains only two brief extras. A DVD copy of the film is also included.
Butter Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Butter disappoints in nearly every respect. Unimaginative drama, a wonky structure, poor pacing (the film peaks early and never recovers), and mishandled characters are saved only by a sweet performance from Yara Shahidi and the interesting and cinematically novel backdrop that is "butter carving." The movie shows spurts of goodness and might have worked better with a rewrite, but as it is the film never finds a stride and settles for less than its best. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray does offer flawless video, strong audio, and a couple of supplements. Rent before buying.
Butter: Other Editions
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Butter Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Butter Blu-ray - October 16, 2012
Anchor Bay Entertainment and RADiUS-TWC announced today the Blu-ray Combo Pack release of the political satire comedy, Butter, from director Jim Field Smith. Written by newcomer Jason Micallef, Butter stars Golden Globe Award winner Jennifer Garner (The Odd Life ...
Butter Blu-ray Screenshots
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