Something about Butter seems very appealing to me. The upcoming movie from director Jim Field Smith (She's Out of My League) combines the two things that are necessary in any gripping comedy film: contemporary political allegory and dairy-related sculpture.
Jennifer Garner plays a straight-laced housewife aching to get into the butter-sculpting game after her husband (Ty Burrell), a renowned name in the field, has retired. Garner's character will face off against a young butter prodigy (Yara Shahidi) and a brazen stripper (Olivia Wilde). Also in the cast, as you can see below, are Hugh Jackman as an adulterous car salesman, Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone.
And though the plot is simple and silly, it all just gives off a vibe of dynamism. Maybe it's because everyone is smiling in the pictures below. Maybe it's the butter sculptures propagated by young Shahidi. Maybe it's my excitement to see Alicia Silverstone do something again. Whatever it is, I'm hooked.
The Jennifer Garner-produced Butter continues to churn up new cast names by the day.
Hugh Jackman and Alicia Silverstone are the latest to join. Variety reported on those additions yesterday while MovieLine also noted that House's Olivia Wilde is now in the mix.
The three join Garner, Rob Corddry, Kate Hudson, Ty Burell, Ashley Greene and Yara Shahidi.
Written by Jason Micallef and helmed by Jim Field Smith, the film is about a Midwestern woman trying to win a local butter-carving contest.
Shooting is expected to begin this month in Louisiana.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Eddie Murphy is terrific in Imagine That as Evan Danielson an overworked financial advisor who is so immersed in his job he’s forgotten about Olivia his daughter from an estranged marriage. When he is given custody for a week and he gets too busy with work she retreats into her fantasy world imagining a group of princesses who as it turns out really know their way around big business. When Dad figures out his daughter’s special blanket and otherworldly friends have the magic touch for investment advice he becomes an instant superstar in his firm. But his newfound success soon sets up a confrontation with his chief rival Johnny Whitefeather whose presentations are often full of (Red) bull.
WHO’S IN IT?
From Dr. Dolittle to Daddy Day Care Murphy has carved out a solid alternate career as a star of family-friendly movies. But none of those previous works play to his overall talents as a comedian better than Imagine That in which he gets to merge his kid’s fantasy world with office politics for optimum laughs. The purely delightful premise in which Murphy faces off with skeptical business partners is perfectly toned to his talents and allows him to be widely appealing for both kids and their parents. As daughter Olivia newcomer Yara Shahidi won out over 3000 girls and is wonderful a real charmer who goes toe to toe with Eddie. Thomas Haden Church provides the perfect foil for Murphy as Whitefeather a guy who plays off a phony Native American heritage and spouts nonsensical advice like he’s E.F. Hutton. As bosses vying for Murphy’s newfound talents both Ronny Cox and Martin Sheen play it straight lending the appropriate gravitas to their roles. Nicole Ari Parker is winning in her few scenes as Olivia’s mom.
Murphy’s comedic tendency to go way over the top (i.e. Norbit) is kept in check with great results. He’s totally believable as a stressed-out businessman and his trip into his daughter’s imagination is handled realistically mined for the optimum number of laughs without sacrificing credibility. Credit for this goes to Karey Kirkpatrick (Over the Hedge) an animation director making his live-action debut for keeping cartoonish antics to a minimum and emphasizing heart and the father/daughter bond instead.
The scenes between Murphy and Shahidi are so effortlessly charming and real that you wish there were more of them. (One highlight is when father teaches daughter to sing Beatles songs which are heard throughout the film.) It’s the kind of thing Bill Cosby did so well on TV but could never pull off in movies. Murphy does.
Murphy is in top comic form all the way and is never better than when he berates Littlefeather’s hokey presentation then comes up with one based on his daughter’s doodlings that shows off the comic genius we haven’t seen in this actor’s comedy vehicles in quite a while.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Imagine That is a family film in the truest form and ripe for an outing with your kids. If you don’t have any rent one and go.
Funnyman Eddie Murphy returns to theaters on June 12 with Imagine That, a family comedy in which he plays a hot-shot investment banker who retreats to his daughter’s imaginary world when his career takes a nosedive. Speaking of career nosedives, Murphy’s rep took a hit last year when his sci-fi comedy Meet Dave crashed and burned at the box office. Can Imagine That, which co-stars Thomas Haden Church and Vanessa Williams, turn things around for the comedy legend?
Judge for yourself by checking out our exclusive clip from Imagine That, wherein the very funny youngster Yara Shahidi (Role Models) first argues with Murphy’s character, then orders his cronies to pelt him with plastic balls (something that many of us who’ve seen Norbit have often fantasized about doing):
Imagine That opens nationwide on Friday, June 12, 2009.
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