Austin Film Festival (AFF) kicked off the week-long film appreciation festival this year with “Butter,” written by Jason Micalleff and starring Jennifer Garner and Ty Burrell. A fantastic pick for opening night, the laugh-out-loud comedy also acts as a political satire, making subtle comments and jabs at our country’s current political figures.
The film centers around a very strange hobby: butter carving. Bob Pickler (Burrell) is Iowa’s reigning butter carving champion, and he has been for the past 15 years. But when it comes time for him to pass on the butter carving torch, his stepford wife, Laura Pickler (Garner), steps up to keep the crown in the family.
Laura, who has been studying her husband’s butter carving skills for years, thinks she’s got this competition in the bag. Then out of the blue, Destiny, a shy, young black foster girl with no last name, steps into the ring.
The competition soon transforms into a circus, with the uptight, status-obsessed Laura; Brooke Swinkowski (Olivia Wilde), a vengeful, money-hungry stripper, who has it out for Laura; and Carol-Ann Stevenson, a crazy cat lady who’s oblivious to the world and yet drops some of the funniest lines in the film.
The only sane competitor is the 10-year-old Destiny, who has never carved a block butter in her life yet has an untapped skill for it.
At first Micalleff, who wrote “Butter” during the 2008 presidential election, jokingly denied any sort of political satire in the film.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said during the Q&A after the screening of “Butter” at AFF. “It’s just a movie about butter carving.”
After a bit of prying though from the audience, Micalleff admitted that Laura Pickler may parody a certain former Alaskan governor and Destiny may parody a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate. However, Micalleff said the movie is less about parodying particular people and more about how our country’s political figures have become a form of entertainment rather than the serious leaders they should be.
With its star-studded cast and solid-gold humor, “Butter” is perfect for political enthusiasts or just the everyday person looking for a good laugh.