Steve Bullin

The inherent struggle of satire is an effect keyed as Poe’s law. Satire: the attempt to embody or represent an extreme or controversial belief, lifestyle, or interest with a sense of irony or sarcasm in order to subserviently mock it. Poe’s law is the adage concept that without blatant clarification of the creator the intent it is impossible to distinguish between sincere extremism or satirical parody. This probably is the film’s largest struggle come the third act.

Butter starts off a pretty strong satirical comedy reminiscent of the 2000 improvisational comedy Best In Show mixed with the 2006 drama comedy Little Miss Sunshine, which sounds and looked to be a perfect match, only issue being the film didn’t commit.

The opening has a pretty clear influence from Best In Show, not just with the documentary opening style but the tempo of humor and the larger-than-life characters. Then, rather suddenly, the first act is over. The dramatic question is presented and the audience is given a clear indication of each of the individual character’s struggles. At this point the film presents a good amount of potential, you have a number of seemingly complex character dynamics that are reaching their boiling point, a dramatic conclusion on the horizon then everything fizzles second act. The actors keep in character perfectly, but the story line and the pacing rather suddenly drop into that hard drama of Little Miss Sunshine and almost forget to be a comedy all together. Sure the characters are still there and ridiculous, but the tone has changed so much you stop seeing them as the comedic parodies they were painted as in the first and second acts.

Maybe it’s Poe’s Law, maybe it’s part of the point, that while we think of these people as a joking reflection of reality, they’re not really that far off from the real thing, and we believe them as honest-to-god people by the third act. It’s as if the directors are saying, yes this is a joke about America, and America also happens to be a joke. 

The end scene of the big conflict has our little protagonist Destiny (Yara Shahidi) have this heartwarming moment between her and the films antagonist, the proper and well to do Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner), and  there is a very strong sense of an olive branch moment between the two, ending that main conflict. But then as if in spite of that at the very end as Destiny’s voice over gives us resolution for a few of the other characters her last line is literally a threat to Laura Pickler. I mean, what? You spend so much for her battle against this character to build to this sweet moment and then you remember you started out as a comedy and throw in a woman beating joke? Then as the audience sits there they begin to notice there was little to no closure for any of the characters. The stressed marriage is still going on but you have no clear indication if it’s better or worse. The neglected daughter had her small lesbian rebellion faze but didn’t serve any purpose in the film other than backdrop and a quick narrative devise. All the audience is given is the sense that Destiny is happy, but forgot the big lesson she learned throughout the rest of the film, and that Laura Pickler has stopped living her sense of achievement vicariously through her husband…  Woopty doo, good for them.

The whole thing starts to stink of poor editing. Some scenes that served no legitimate purpose other than giving it the R rating and attempt to maintain humor were left in where others, which would have very likely filled out what was actually going on with the rest of the characters, seem to have been cut.

If you liked Little Miss Sunshine or Best In Show, go watch those again. Then if you still feel like you need to fulfill that strange little comedic tumor of yours, go ahead and watch Butter. It’s fairly decent -emphasis on decent- and the first two acts are actually really enjoyable.

Until next time, this is Steve with the A-List.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.