"SPINNING INTO BUTTER"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
Sarah Jessica Parker as SARAH DANIELS
Miranda Richardson as CATHERINE KENNEY
Beau Bridges as BURTON STRAUSS
Mykelti Williamson as AARON CARMICHAEL
Paul James as SIMON BRICK
Studio: Screen Media Films
Directed by: Mark Brokaw
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On the campus of an elite New England university, a young black student is being harassed with threatening notes and other racial attacks. Sarah Daniels (Sarah Jessica Parker), the Dean of Students, soon finds herself caught in the middle of a political mess, trying to field reporters and an internal school investigation. The incident leads Sarah and others on campus to examine their own prejudices and emotions and beliefs. The film is based on Rebecca Gilman’s critically-acclaimed play.
WHAT I LIKED
I went to college in the early 1990s, the height of political correct revolution. Things are just as bad now, but when I went to school, the P.C. police first took hold. Now, you expect this garbage. When I went to school, they were seizing power, and that made it a depressing time.
“Spinning Into Butter,” as liberally-minded and politically motivated as it is, does reveal a certain degree of hypocritical truth in the university system. The film presents plenty of unrealistic straw men, and its all-too-clever approach tries to shake its finger at anyone with a white face, but it targets stuffy intellectuals even more than your run-of-the-mill racist.
What I really enjoyed about “Spinning Into Butter” is that the film exposes the university system, which thinks it is so enlightened and P.C., as inherently politically incorrect. It has the courage to point out that pigeon-holing people into ethnic groups – even with the best intentions – segregates. It also recognizes that sometimes a downtrodden racial group can be its own worst enemy by causing problems from self-segregation and embracing unsavory behavior in the name of cultural freedom.
I’ve heard “Spinning Into Butter” be compared to “Crash,” and while neither is exactly subtle, “Spinning Into Butter” accepts its own prejudices rather than points the finger exclusively out of the screen.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
For as bold as “Spinning Into Butter” can be, it is an awkward and clunky film. Many people believe that there’s very little difference between a presentation on the stage and one on the screen. Just because films like “Doubt” make a smooth transition doesn’t mean it can happen in all circumstances. “Spinning Into Butter” demonstrates that not everything translates well. Many lines, especially from the extras, fall flat and seem terribly forced.
The movie is very heavy-handed and preaches constantly. At least this should be expected by anyone who just glances at the cover box and reads the blurb on the bat. You should know what you’re getting into. So if you’re not interested in a sermon, you’ll want to skip this one.
No DVD features on this one, folks. You’re in it for the movie alone.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who want to be politically correct but know that they aren’t.