butter

A “cutthroat story of greed, sex, blackmail and butter” says Jennifer Garner’s ambitious politico says in her introductory words.

Director Jim Field Smith’s “Butter” includes all that, but like the fatty but tasty offering itself – a little bit of it is fine, any more and it starts to repeat on you.

Falling somewhere between great concept and reasonable film, “Butter” is a quirky ensemble comedy, headlined by Garner, that’s a semi mish-mash of mockumentaries like “Drop Dead Gorgeous” and the underdog coming-of-age yarn – take your pick. It’s inability to settle on a tone and structure may be the reason it’s appeal starts to wane about part-way through.

Set in Iowa, the film tells the father unique but only mildly amusing cut throat butter competition. This year a young girl, recently adopted by a couple of middle-class Americans, decides to enter, and finds herself pitted against the reigning champ, a well-to-do and strangely over-committed housewife (Garner).

The film works best when playing back through the eyes of a camcorder, a’la the Chrisopher Guest movies, but not content with merely being a fun, quirky mockery, director Smith decides to try and cram a political satire and straight-up narrative into proceedings too. And it’s just too much and off kilter.

Performance-wise, Garner’s a revelation in the room as the snooty housewife who takes her buttery skills a little too seriously (“he wants to play a game does he!?”); it’s her most interesting role to date. The supporting cast, including scene-stealing Olivia Wilde (as a stripper who sends MMS messages mid-show on her phone), Ty Burrell and Alicia Silverstone, inject life and humour into fun characters.

Extras : Gag reel, deleted and extended scenes.