Who knew the world of butter carving could be so cutthroat? Well, that's mostly due to embodiment of insanity that is Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner). Most of the butter carving society is well-adjusted and merely like to stare at butter sculptures during their free time. Laura is far too high-strung to have free time. Her entire life is devoted to being the best, at everything. Even if it's something as inconsequential at butter carving, and even if it means stomping on an adorable young butter carver striving for greatness. Nothing is going to stop Laura. Nothing.
Jim Field Smith directs this zany, dark comedy centered around the sculpting of cubed fat. Smith recently directed the very funny, and underrated, comedy 'She's Out of My League.' He's gone much darker with 'Butter' which feels very similar wacky dark comedies like 'The Details' or 'The Whole Nine Yards.' The movie is filled with outlandish characters locked in bizarre struggles. Most of these people you'd never want to personally meet, but that's half the fun. Watching it gave me the distinct impression I was watching a movie that Tim Dorsey would think up.
Laura's husband is the best butter carver in all the land. Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell) is an all-around nice guy who has consistently won the butter carving championship year after year. He's so nice, that when the butter carving commissioners ask him to retire before the next tournament, he graciously agrees. His wife, Laura, is far from happy with the decision though. She's used to hogging her husband's limited, but bright, spotlight and she's not willing to let it go. So she jumps into the fray and hopes to become the next great butter carver. Personally, Laura's life is an unhappy one. Her marriage is falling apart, and in her own words as she discusses her butter sculpting future with a young artist who is threatening to beat her in the next competition, "This is all I have."
Destiny (Yara Shahidi) is the young artist in question. She has a proven ability. She's a true artist and decides to get into butter carving just for fun. In what amounts to horribly wrong timing she finds herself going up against the most selfish, underhanded person she could've ever faced.
What's so great about 'Butter' is that these people are extremely serious about their butter sculpting. They live and breathe butter, yet their lives are in total shambles. Bob is having an affair with a prostitute named Brooke (Olivia Wilde); Laura is diddling the local car salesman (Hugh Jackman). Really, the only consummately good person in the entire movie is poor little Destiny who is caught in the middle of a bunch of squabbling adults that make her look far more grown up than they are.
Garner is the heart and soul of the movie though. She ratchets up the crazy as far as she possibly can. Laura walks around wide-eyed and frustrated. Her Stepford Wife looks are the icing on the cake. She's batshit insane. She'll do anything to win and I mean anything. It's hard to believe the lengths she'll go to in order to win, but she does it anyway.
This is one of those dark comedies where you find yourself squirming at the detestable nature of the characters and the situations they find themselves in; however, you're equally rooting for it to get even crazier. Because the crazier it gets the more entertaining it is. And 'Butter' gets pretty damn crazy.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Anchor Bay release comes in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. The Blu-ray is a 25GB disc. It's noted as being a Region A release.
The 1080p presentation of 'Butter' is a solid one. Detail is very important in this movie seeing that many of the butter sculptures shown, including a life-size replica of The Last Supper, are intricately detailed. In that area the video presentation succeeds well.
The butter sculptures are extremely detailed. Upon close-up inspection we can see tiny carved lines, lumps and bumps in the butter. The smallest imperfections are noticeable. The butter is detailed and realistic. That detail structure carries over into clothing textures and faces as well.
The color palette, at times, seems to be bathed in a hint of cyan. However, skintones still appear natural. Primaries are strong with the soft yellow of the butter being the dominate color in the movie. I didn't notice any compression issues even though this is on a 25GB disc. Blacks looked inky enough. Shadows were well delineated and I didn't see any terrible aliasing or banding that distracted my viewing. Overall, a strong presentation.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is about as straight-forward as they come. It's centered directly up front. Since 90-percent of the movie is dialogue much of the movie is mixed to the center channel. There are a few moments where we feel a little more immersed in the movie, but not many.
Those immersive moments come during the butter carving competitions as the audience mills about watching the artists work. Ambient crowd noise can be heard in the front and rear channels. The rear channels are always pretty light, which was to be expected. They do pipe up with a nicely refined echo when Destiny and Laura give speeches in a cavernous gymnasium after they're done sculpting.
The movie's music is also front and center. It's the only aspect of the movie that features any real use of low-end sound. The sub gets a very light work out during this movie simply because it's not called upon to do much of anything. It's a get-the-job-done type of audio mix.
'Butter' is surprisingly good for a movie about butter. The wide variety of oddball characters makes this movie a lot of fun to watch. Olivia Wilde as a mean and nutty prostitute is only slightly upstaged by Garner's portrayal of nutcase Laura. Both of them are great in this movie. There's even a little hidden emotional tugging going on near the end. With a strong video presentation and decent audio this one is definitely recommended.