Jim Field Smith
Published Jan 04, 2013
With a name as bland, generic and forgettable as his directing style, Jim Field Smith (She's Out of My League
) is tailor-made to helm the cloying, insipid pap that is Butter. Little more than an excuse for cheap, liberal mudslinging, this childish "comedy" (there's barely a smirk to be had) is at least as unknowingly moronic as the uptight, right-wing fish-in-a-barrel it's trying to electrocute. Delivering her second atrocious performances of 2012 (after The Odd Life of Timothy Green
), Jennifer Garner stars as obvious Sarah Palin-like caricature Laura Pickler: wide-eyed, all-American, racist and begging for scorn. Garner plays the role as such a despicable shrew that we're supposed to sympathize with her hooker-banging husband (Ty Burrell, Modern Family
) and laugh at her every bitchy, controlling move. The film's plot is as embarrassingly slight as the characters that populate it. After a dominating run as state butter carving champion, Bob Pickler (Burrell) is asked to step down to make way for new talent. Laura's irrational sense of entitlement leads her to enter the competition, despite a complete lack of experience, in order to keep the title in the family. Her primary competition is a sassy, precocious little black girl named Destiny (Yara Shahidi), who bounced between foster families until landing with the prototypical, loving, white, liberal pairing of Ethan and Julie (Alicia Silverstone, who's gone from the object of Benicio Del Toro's veiled obsession to the homely wife of Rob Corddry). Beyond the ham-fisted Republican lampooning, there are a bunch of sloppy, tattered threads of a wholly unnecessary subplot that are left flapping in the breeze. Olivia Wilde's character appears to have been inserted for pure titillation — certainly not because it makes any sense that Bob's daughter (Ashley Greene) would become so infatuated with the prostitute her dad is seeing that she'd pay hundreds of dollars to see her as well. The only performance in the entire film that doesn't inspire groans or bile comes from, of all places, Rob Corddry, who tones down his innate gift for filthy improvisation to play Destiny's semi-charming foster dad. Adding nothing of value are a gag reel and collection of deleted and extended scenes. A life-sized butter sculpture of a T-Rex would be easier to swallow.