That joke about the conservative midwesterners and their right-wing politics and their unsophisticated ways was funny the first time. I think. Then it was funny again in Waiting For Guffman. Then it turned into a dogpile, an unimaginative sort of like-it-on-Facebook thoughtlessness where everybody gets to take a jab at rednecks. Then Tina Fey impersonated Sarah Palin. That was great. And now it's done. Expired. A game of T-Ball for kids who don't want to play T-Ball.
That didn't stop this movie, of course. It sat on the shelf for a bit, gathering up a nice stale smell. But even if it'd been released in 2011, like I'm sure the filmmakers originally planned, the end result would have still been a film that considered itself daring for ripping the lid off Iowa (and/or your favorite fly-over state). It attempts to accomplish that satirical task by using county fair butter-sculpting (a real thing, in case you were unaware, and if you've seen one up close you know how amazing it is) as a conduit for all things hypocritical, venal and stupid and winds up out-stupiding its target.
Jennifer Garner is the Nomi Malone of this cut-throat sport, a woman with no fixed center who'll do whatever it takes to hold onto the art-born-from-butter crown after her master sculptor husband (Ty Burrell) retires from the circuit. Her plan, which includes using her champion butter-crafting status as a stepping stone to Palin-ish political office, is complicated by the recently adopted daughter (Yara Shahidi) of townsfolk Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone. The child is a butter savant, creating community-rousing interpretations of Harriet Tubman sitting astride a locomotive.
Another obstacle arises in the form of foul-mouthed stripper/prostitute Olivia Wilde, whose hatred of Garner brings out the movie's only consistent laughs. I can't print her best lines here, but they involve defecation and the C-word. Occasional sparks of life delivered by Kristen Schall as a low-functioning butter groupie get shoved into the background. Oh, and a marching band plays "Sexual Healing."
So... yeah, that's about it. All other gags stuffed into this weak-willed, condescending smirk of a film involve fried food on sticks, The Secret, Jesus, home schoolers, low-rent strippers, polite racism, Elvis, old people and "the liberal media." It ends with a gag reel of flubbed lines, ad libs and Olivia Wilde taking a spill on the child's bike she rides around while wearing sky-high lucite heels.
This is why they invented sell-by dates.