Critics Consensus

Despite its talented cast and a few funny moments, Butter's satirical aims are largely undone by a lack of subtlety and air of smugness.



Total Count: 67


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,994
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Movie Info

Butter follows an ambitious woman (Jennifer Garner) who is married to Iowa's reigning butter sculpting champ (Ty Burrell) but decides to enter the race on her own when he retires. She's the shoo-in until an adopted young black girl (Yara Shahidi) discovers she has an uncanny talent for butter-carving and becomes a late-breaking favorite. -- (C) Weinstein


Ty Burrell
as Bob Pickler
Hugh Jackman
as Boyd Bolton
Yara Shahidi
as Destiny
Kristen Schaal
as Carol-Ann
Garrett Schenk
as Orval Flanagan
Andrew Daly
as Announcer
Judy Leavell
as Helen Flanagan
Joe Chrest
as Butter Fan
Deanna Ricks
as Butter Fan's Wife
Kelly Tippens
as Mrs. Moore
Dodie Brown
as June Carmichael
Jeanne Evans
as Mrs. Gunderson
Cindy Creekmore
as Danielle Mattingly
Christine Scheller
as Transitional Home Assistant
Brett Hill
as Hayden
Corena Chase
as Miss Schram
Mark Oliver
as Martina Caswell
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News & Interviews for Butter

Critic Reviews for Butter

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (24) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (44)

  • A wicked Midwest satire with razor blades stashed beneath its bright candy-apple surface.

    Oct 5, 2012 | Full Review…

    Peter Debruge

    Top Critic
  • Hardly the high-priced spread, this condescending comedy about Middle America will score with some audiences and put off others.

    Oct 5, 2012 | Full Review…
  • Plays like one long, slow descent into cloying moralizing and uplift that's well past its expiration date.

    Oct 5, 2012 | Full Review…
  • The movie's entire superior attitude is kind of annoying.

    Oct 5, 2012 | Rating: 1/4
  • We're still just scratching the surface of witty, provocative humor as long as envelope-pushing directors such as Jim Field Smith continue to find work.

    Oct 5, 2012 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • At times, the Midwestern satire "Butter" is almost funny, and in its honor I almost laughed.

    Oct 5, 2012 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Butter

  • Jul 29, 2017
    There's always this thing that people say, that I believe can sometimes be bullshit, that everyone is good at something. That everyone has some sort of talent. I don't think they say that they're the only person that can do this thing, whatever it may be, because that would be preposterous. I mean I guess there's a certain truth to that, that everyone must have something that they're good at. I guess what I find to be bullshit sometimes is the fact that not everyone can make their talent into something that pays off monetarily. I mean you can try, but it might not work. Let's say someone is very good at making their farts sound like current popular songs. You can't make any money off that shit (quite literally), all you can hope for is that you go viral with this silliness. This brings us to this flick, which focuses on butter sculptors. Yes, you heard that right. People who make sculptures out of butter. Doing some research on this, this seems to be an ancient tradition of Tibetan Buddhists, so that's not bothersome. It's a religious ritual/tradition, so I completely get it. What I mean is actual competitions about butter sculptures that take place in America and other places of the world. Like, what's the appeal of it? Don't get me wrong, I realize that it takes talent to be a butter sculptor, I would never say it doesn't, but I still don't really get it. But that's neither here nor there. The film tells the story of this ambitious woman, whose husband has won the State Fair butter sculpting competition 15 years in a row, who decides to entire the competition once her husband is forced out to make way for a 'new' generation. She enters the competition as does this 11-year-old girl, who's in Iowa staying with her new foster parents. That's, really, what the movie is about essentially. Well, it's really about Laura (the ambitious woman in question) and her machinations to game the competition in her favor and to screw this little girl out of what was a legitimate win during their first competition. There's a few other elements here, like Laura's husband, Bob, having an affair with this stripper/hooker and her wanting Bob to pay her the money he owes her. Afterwards, she meets up with Bob's daughter and ends up doing stuff with her, so the money she's owed is actually doubled. Parts of me, at the time this was occurring, wondered how this was relevant to the main narrative of Destiny (the little girl) vs Laura, but those questions were answered later on. The film definitely has a satirical tone, but, if I'm being honest, outside of a few chuckles, the movie is never as funny as it probably fancies itself to be. I like Laura's desperation to keep herself in the running for the state fair by fucking someone in order to get him to lie about Destiny's sculptures and how he helped her. Laura, pretending to be shocked at this accusation, then asks for a rematch. Laura wants the social status that comes with winning the state competition. Yes, really. This is a bit weird, though, cause during the first competition, these people sculpted their butter out in the open. Spectators came and were able to see them doing their thing with the butter. So how do they expect this claim to fly? I guess it's a bit of a moot point, since Destiny agrees to the rematch anyway, regardless of the fact that there's no proof to support Laura's claims. It is what it is and I guess they had to have another competition, since the first one is over, like, 45 minutes into the movie. The movie isn't bad, I'd say that it's average at best, but it's just missing something. The tone is certainly easygoing enough, for a satire, but there's nothing really biting about this film. Laura is portrayed as a conservative and devoted wife who says racially insensitive things about Destiny (who happens to be black) and that's just it. There's not much to her character, really. And there's not much to Destiny either, she's just an adorable little girl with abandonment issues. The casting is really strong, really. I cannot complain about that in the slightest. I'm not even gonna go over everyone that's in this movie, cause then I'd be here forever. But I love Kristen Schaal and Ty Burrell and that's all you really need to know. Again, though, I never found that the film found a consistent comedic tone and that held it back to me. I think it plays it a little safe and tame with its satire. I felt that if it went all out, in my opinion, it might have ended up being a good movie. As it was, I felt it was only average at best. I certainly didn't mind watching this, in the slightest, but I wish it would have been better. I'm sure others will like (and dislike) this more than I did, but this was just a perfectly fine movie. I didn't feel like I wasted my time with this, even though I wouldn't say it's a good movie. Watch it if you must, but there's better movies out there that are worth your time. Like Here Alone, if you like post-apocalyptic dramas with a hint of horror I mean.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Feb 20, 2014
    In "Butter," Bob Pickler(Ty Burrell) has won the county butter sculpting contest for the last fifteen years. So, the powers-the-be have decided to give somebody else a chance. After she calms down somewhat, his wife Laura(Jennifer Garner) figures it might as well be her and would have had a very easy time of it if not for destiny. Sorry, make that Destiny(Yara Shahidi), a ten-year old orphan who has spent most of life going from one foster home to another and also has a prodigious talent for art in any form. I might have been of a mind to like "Butter" if only it could have made up its mind about what kind of movie it wanted to be. Destiny's touching story clashes wildly with the movie's awkward sense of humor that is much more condescending than satire.(The one laugh out loud moment in the movie combined the weirdest product placement and a truly private joke.) Not helping matters is the lack of comic timing from both Jennifer Garner and Olivia Wilde, with Garner also not being able to locate her inner Jessica Lange. That leaves Rob Corddry of all people to walk off with scenes, by being as down to earth as possible.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2013
    With plenty of well-known actors dancing around this film, its a surprise the script is so frustrating to follow. There isn't much finesse in way jokes are delivered. This is supposed to be a satirical movie aimed at the midwest, but what you get is a jumbled movie with two conflicting problems between Jennifer Gardner's character and the little girl. The little girl is endearing and actually provides the meat of the story you actually want to pay attention to, but it's quickly chopped down when Gardner's character's ambition goes too far. Granted at only 90 minutes, not much is given for character development, but I got a kick out of Hugh jackman and Olivia Wilde playing brash versions of characters you'd usually never see them play.
    Lane Z Super Reviewer
  • Apr 14, 2013
    Who knew butter could be so interesting. Lol. This kind of reminded me of "Election". Jennifer Garner's overachieving character definitely had a Tracey Flick vibe to her. Bitching, backstabbing, a scheming hooker, what's not to like in this very black little comedy drama.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer

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