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DVD Review: Butter

December 18, 2012

Butter DVD CoverButter – An Alliance Films’ Release

DVD Release Date: December 21st, 2012

Rated PG for coarse language, sexual content and substance abuse

Running time: 90 minutes

Jim Field Smith (dir.)

Jason Micallef (writer)

Mateo Messina (music)

Jennifer Garner as Laura

Ty Burrell as Bob

Yara Shahidi as Destiny

Olivia Wilde as Brooke

Rob Corddry as Ethan

Alicia Silverstone as Julie

Ashley Greene as Kaitlen

Hugh Jackman as Boyd Bolton

Our reviews below:


Butter DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

In a small town in the Midwest United States, Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell) always wins the annual butter carving contest.  But when he is unable to compete, his wife Laura (Jennifer Garner) enters instead, only to find her competition in an 11-year-old adopted girl named Destiny (excellent child actor Yara Shahidi in a breakout role).  But things get even more complicated than that.  Bob is having an affair with a local stripper, Brooke (Olivia Wilde) who is after him for money, and the double-crossing starts to build up in order for Laura to keep the contest in the Pickler name.

Olivia Wilde brings some of the funniest scenes, with Yara Shahidi supplying the beating heart of the film.  Watch for Hugh Jackman in a small but pivotal role.  Although a few of the cultural stereotypes might go too far for some, this is a smart little film destined to draw comparisons to both Election and Easy A.  With strong performances from all involved and a script that allows for ample social and political satire, Butter is a bitingly sharp and often very funny comedy that makes great use of a unique premise and deserves to have a big audience.  I first saw Butter when it premiered at TIFF way back in 2011, and it’s been largely overlooked since then, but this sharp comedy is well worth checking out now that it is finally available.

The DVD includes a gag reel as well as deleted and extended scenes.


Butter DVD Review By Erin V.  

*** (out of 4)

Playing at TIFF 2011 (where I first saw it), Butter is a satire about politics, racism, and a butter carving competition.

In Butter, Jennifer Garner plays Laura Pickler.  She is the second wife of Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell), who for the last 15 years has been Iowa’s ‘Mastery in Butter Competition’ champion.  But when he steps down to give someone else a chance Laura is livid as she has relished the fame his wins have given them locally.  Insistent that the contest must not be won by anyone other than a Pickler, Laura decides to enter herself.

She doesn’t expect any competition until 10-year-old African-American foster child Destiny (Yara Shahidi) signs up.  And then things get even worse when local stripper Brooke (Olivia Wilde), and neighbour Carol-Ann (Kristin Schaall) sign up as well.  Carol-Ann might just be there for fun, but Brooke has a score to settle as Laura’s husband owes her money for some ‘services.’  But it is Destiny who may actually be able to take the arrogant, racist, and controlling Laura down – a fact that drives Laura crazy.

The whole film easily earns its 14A (R in the states) rating.  The ‘c’ word is used once, along with plenty of other language, not to mention the racist remarks from Laura, and the fact that Brooke is an active stripper.  Still, for adults who don’t mind a harder-edged satire, Butter has some really good laughs, tension towards the end, as well as a bit of a heart due to Destiny’s storyline.  The acting is all good here, especially from the young actress who plays Destiny, in her breakout role.  All in all, I’d say it’s worth checking out – I enjoyed it quite a bit both times I watched it (in theatres and on DVD).


Butter DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Inspired by political debates, Butter tells a cynical yet sweet story about a unique form of sculpture – butter carving.  In a small town in Iowa, Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell) has won every butter scuplting competition in the state.  When told it is time for him to step down and give someone else a chance, his wife Laura (Jennifer Garner) decides to compete in order to keep butter sculpting as the Pickler family’s championship.

But when an adorable 10 year old art prodigy named Destiny (Yara Shahidi) enters the contest, it seems inevitable she will win.  Not only is she amazing, but the fact that she is an African-American foster child whose sculptures are created from the heart makes her win inevitable.  Now Laura is determined to sabotage the contest, with the help of her ex-boyfriend, Boyd (Hugh Jackman).

Butter is funny, sweet and clever.  The acting, dialogue and screenwriting is great.  Yara Shahidi is particularly good as the loveable Destiny.  Her story reminds people that there are also older children who are looking for a family to call their own.  As an artist myself, I really liked the message that the difference between work and art is the emotion that is put into a piece.  While Laura’s sculptures are good, Destiny’s are not only technically good but also created with love.  This is a funny movie that is worth seeing if you are into art or politics.


Butter DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

For some folks, winning is the only option.  Butter, starring and produced by Jennifer Garner, is a satiric look at the lengths one Laura Pickler (Garner) would go to be the First Lady of Iowa’s State Fair butter carving competition.  When the reigning champion, her husband Bob (Ty Burrell) is forced to step down from further competition, Laura decides to step up and regain the family honour and take Bob’s place in the contest.  Convinced her win is a lock, she is shocked when two unlikely competitors, local stripper Brooke (Olivia Wilde) and ten year old African-American foster child Destiny (Yara Shahidi) sign up for the contest.  Determined to win, Laura resorts to less than lady-like tactics.

Butter pushes the envelope with some surprisingly racist dialogue and unexpected sexual situations.  However, it works brilliantly.  This is a funny movie that drives home the point how seriously some people take competing for the honour of a first place ribbon.  The film also has a lot of heart.  Destiny’s storyline is the best part of Butter.  It’s hard not to cheer for this determined little butter carving artist.  Yara Shahidi gives a really good performance as Destiny, and the entire cast is strong with Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde and Hugh Jackman as Laura’s ex, Boyd, being particularly fun to watch.

Being released on disc for the holiday gift market, Butter would be a good choice for adults who enjoy satire and the craziness of competitions.  The butter carving itself is also fascinating to watch.  Who knew butter was good for more than just baking.


Butter DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Butter is centred around the Iowa State Fair butter carving competition, won handily for the last fifteen years by Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell) with his fiercely competitive and ambitious trophy wife Laura (Jennifer Garner) at his side. Angered by Bob’s decision to retire, Laura signs up herself to keep the prize in the family. Bob seeks comfort in the arms of an exotic dancer named Brooke (Olivia Wilde), but when he fails to pay what he owes her, she vows revenge in the competition, aided by Bob’s young adult daughter (and Laura’s stepdaughter) Kaitlen (Ashley Greene).

Meanwhile, a ten year old African American orphan named Destiny (Yara Shadihi), having finally settled down with decent foster parents Ethan and Julie (Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone), discovers her own talent for butter carving. While Laura is good, Destiny is really gifted, leading to desperate measures involving Laura’s old boyfriend Boyd (Hugh Jackman), countered by an alliance between Brooke and Destiny.

Butter is a brilliant satire of middle American values, with a script that takes no prisoners delivered by an ideal cast. Though some may be offended by some of the situations and language, they are always inserted with maximum comic effect, never gratuitously.


Consensus: With a strong cast and excellent script that allows for plenty of biting social and political satire, Butter is a sharp comedy that also has a heart and is well worth seeing now that it is finally available.  *** (Out of 4)

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