Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Butter (2011): When liberal politics go wrong

Butter (2011)
dir: Jim Field Smith

"None of this would have happened if Mr. McAllister hadn't meddled the way he did. He should have just accepted things as they are instead of trying to interfere with destiny. You see, you can't interfere with destiny, that's why it's destiny. And if you try to interfere, the same thing's just going to happen anyway, and you'll just suffer." - Tracy Flick, Election

Reading the liberal blogs and websites, one gets the idea that conservatives are unfunny jerks while liberals are hilarity incarnate. They use examples of formerly funny directors losing their edge on conservative films like David Zucker did with An American Carol. But, liberals are prone to being unfunny assholes as well, and Butter is the star-studded proof.

Star-studded? Wait...isn't this that movie that pretty much went straight to streaming that Netflix has been promoting the fuck out of by putting it in the top row of the comedy section for like four months straight that nobody ever heard of except for that posting and this review? Yes. Yes it is. It's a blacklist screenplay from 2008 that got picked up by Jennifer Garner for her first outing then released by those Weinstein fuckers. As such, they were able to blackmail 2/3 of Hollywood to try to save think stinking piece of crap. Obviously, Jennifer Garner saved the starring role for herself, but then she got Hugh Jackmam, Olivia Munn, Rob Corddry, Ty Burrell, and they even dug up Alicia Silverstone. And that's just the juicier roles.

You know with a cast like this, it's either going to be awesome or its going to shit the bed. And, really, it kind of does the latter

Butter is trying to be the updated Election, where modern day politics are parodied through small town competitions. It opens with a woman winning Iowan governor, and then backtracks to be nothing about that race. It's really about a butter sculpting competition. Isn't that hilarious? FOOLED YOU!! It's this level of hilarity that marks Butter as being high brow entertainment. 

Butter is really about how a trophy wife's loss to a ten-year-old girl, named Destiny, in a butter sculpting competition caused her to run for governor. But, the butter competition is the climax of the movie, and the politics are whisked away as unimportant to the movie. Instead of doing a clever mirror politics story, where the woman uses the same bullying techniques to no avail in the butter competition but succeeds in politics, we're stuck with a full 90 minutes of butter.

Everything about this movie is tangential. The trophy wife's husband being a former butter sculpting king? Impetus at best. The stripper he picks up on a lonely night? Tangential. Sum total of her purpose: buying the 10 year old a set of knives. The car dealer the trophy wife fucks who tries to cheat the game? Tangential.

Everything about this movie is about the inevitable fate, even if it refuses to acknowledge it. It's like the authors took Tracy Flick's words of wisdom at the beginning of Election as a challenge. No, people who mess with destiny don't get hurt, they become governor!

What the movie is trying to be is a cynical, world-weary look at how politics is just a competition of little consequence, with players who are too petty to lose. It's trying to say that in butter competitions the good people win, but in politics...not so much. Perhaps it's even trying to say that the Iowa straw poll victors are the better people, even if they lose (Iowa has only picked 2 out of the past 6 Republican nominees since 1979. But, what it is saying is that Republican politicians are nuts.

Iowa straw polls are for Republican candidates only. This isn't a criticism of Democratic politics. This is only directly analogous to Republicans. And, it's saying that, unless you're a 10-year-old little black girl, you're a fucked up backwoods hick Republican who has affairs and cheats in order to get to the top. And, it's all very obvious. Zomg is it obvious.

But, worse than that, it's blatantly misogynistic. The lead character, a stand in for every Republican female ever mocked (Michele Bachmann, Christine O'Donnell, but namely Sarah Palin, etc) is a cold woman who married to make herself look like a winner. And she'll lie, cheat, and fuck her way to the top. Then, there's the stripper who seems to want to destroy people for money. The only good female adults are either the judge of the competition (arguable in her case) or the adoptive mother, both of who play back seats to the rampant female leads.

In the end, it's not funny, biting, insightful, honest, or even incisive. This is a heavy handed pseudo metaphor attack aimed at Republican armed with the dullest of instruments. This isn't a must watch, a warning siren, or a clarion call. It's a "fuck you" to conservative politics in general, without anything specific to say. 

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