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Movie review: 'Butter' a rancid try at political satire

Published October 8, 2012 10:47 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After a slew of terrible movies pushing right-wing causes ("Won't Back Down," "Last Ounce of Courage," "October Baby"), now comes "Butter," a really awful liberal movie, to help restore balance to the cinematic/political universe.

This one-note satire centers on the Iowa State Fair's butter-carving competition, a world dominated for 15 years by sensitive artist Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell) and his status-conscious wife, Laura (Jennifer Garner). Laura's ambition to translate butter-sculpting prowess into political power is threatened when organizers urge Bob to retire and when Bob makes time with a skanky stripper, Brooke (Olivia Wilde). Laura decides to take over the carving dynasty, determined to make the most patriotic mound of butter ever seen. Her main competition is the unsubtly named Destiny (Yara Shahidi), a gifted 10-year-old African-American orphan.

Garner's Laura is a lazy caricature, a Sarah Palin-style Republican trophy wife in power suit and pearls, but then every character in rookie writer Jim Micallef's script is a flat stereotype, including Destiny's well-meaning liberal foster parents, played by Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone.

Director Jim Field Smith ("She's Out of My League") tries to pull the mess out of the fire, but the pacing is slack and the uplifting ending is even more cynical than the satire that preceded it.

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Opens Friday, Oct. 5, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated R for language and sexual content; 90 minutes. For more movie reviews, visit nowsaltlake.com/movies.