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'Butter' Movie, Starring Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Has Not-So-Subtle Political Undertones

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A woman, after years in the shadow of her incredibly successful (but unfaithful) husband, finally gets a chance to prove herself. She feels ready to work hard to achieve the lofty goals she has set for herself in Iowa. But then, she meets a fresh new challenger who no one expected to be able to compete in the form of a much younger African American.

It's not what you think. That's not a summary of the 2008 Democratic primaries -- it's a synopsis of a movie, Butter, starring Jennifer Garner and Hugh Jackman, on the subject of carved butter sculptures, being released this October. It's centered around the Iowa State Fair's famous butter carving competition instead of the Iowa caucuses, and the upstart competitor is 10-year-old Destiny, played by young TV vet Yara Shahidi, not 47-year-old Barack Obama.

Garner plays Laura Pickler, the long-frustrated housewife to Ty Burrell's womanizer Bob. (Jackman plays Garner's character's ex-boyfriend, who presumably tries to save the day while reviving his relationship with Pickler.) Several recent articles on the piece have been prompted by Pickler's religiosity to cast her as a type for Michelle Bachmann. But Garner has repeatedly pointed out that Butter was written and developed 18 months ego, long before Minnesotan's rise to national prominence. And if any doubt about the film's satirical target remains, it's dispelled by an Entertainment Weekly interview with the director, Jim Field Smith. He tells the magazine:

“When you start to peel away the layers of the movie, you realize that there’s a lot of political metaphor to the movie,” continues Smith. “Bill Clinton was this much-loved president, who maybe was not so discreet with his sexual love, and Hillary stood in the shadows very quietly supporting him. After his two terms were up, there was a sense of Hillary saying, ‘My turn now.’

Case closed.

But political quibbles aside, will it be a good movie? It's unclear. Firstshowing.net gave it an 8 out of 10, calling it enjoyable but not an Oscar contender. And a wrapup of early reviews from Thompson on Hollywood indicates that many like the movie a fair amount, but that no one is raving about it. It sounds like the person who'd be most likely to take offense at the film is Hillary Clinton -- and it's hard to imagine that anyone could get all that worked up about being portrayed by Jennifer Garner.

To get an idea of what kinds of things Garner and Destiny might sculpt, check out this slideshow of amazing butter sculptures from the past several years.

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