‘Butter’ is an important and heartwarming film for teens

Movie Coverage

By Audrey Park, University of Chicago Laboratory High School

California activist Julia Bram remembers a day six years ago when her brother, Paul Kaufman, said he wanted to visit and tell her about his latest project. He came over with a well thought out, striking presentation, depicting what would be the family’s next passion project.

Mr. Kaufman, winner of the Canadian Screen Award and an Emmy Award, adapted the book “Butter” for the screen, which he also produced and directed. Released in theaters on Feb. 25, “Butter’s Final Meal” or “Butter,” portrays the life of an obese teenager who deals with one of the most universal struggles of being a teenager: mental health. 

The movie was filmed in 20 days in 2018 and cost about $1.75 million for production. Ms. Bram served as executive producer and said the film was made like a true indie movie. 

“‘Butter’ was created on a shoestring,” she said. “The movie’s production was completely independent, and we are really proud of being on budget and on time.”

“Butter’s Final Meal” is based on a young adult novel by Eric Jade Lange. After reading the book, Mr. Kaufman said he could personally identify with the topics of mental health discussed as he had two teenagers at the time. 

 “I wanted my next film to have a positive social impact, and I wanted it to be that film specifically by helping teens while being entertained by a funny movie,” he said.

After securing the rights of the book, Mr. Kaufman initiated the process of fundraising. Ms. Bram said the process attracted like-minded people, including cast and crew members, as well as financial support outlets.

“These were people who wanted to make a difference in the world, who wanted to promote kindness and who wished to advocate for mental health,” she said.

The process also entailed ensuring the movie was not romanticizing mental health.

“My brother did not take the whole process regarding mental health lightly,” Ms. Bram said. “He reached out to the Jed Foundation, a suicide prevention center for teens and young adults. They actually edited the script and the movie.”

Mr. Kaufman hopes after watching the movie, people will be less judgmental and that it will empower others to identify if a friend needs help, an idea discussed on “Butter’s” R U OK campaign

“If you see someone different from you,” he said, “realize they are a person, a human being like you who has feelings, a brother, sister, parent, is a parent, likes many of the same things you do.”

Ms. Bram mentioned the story of Kevin Hill, who survived an attempted suicide survivor when he jumped off of the Golden Gate Bridge.

“He said the second he jumped, he knew he had made a terrible mistake. He reached out to the others who survived the jump, and they all said the same thing,” she said. “His story is incredibly inspirational and a reminder that change is possible.”

This heartfelt comedy-drama not only addresses the challenges posed by teenage life and mental health, but also encourages viewers to enact change in their daily lives such as simply asking a friend if they’re OK. 

“It is extremely important that we open up about mental health,” Ms. Bram said. “Just two years ago, the topic was kind of a taboo and something shamed upon. But now, let’s normalize talking about mental health because it truly is a normal thing.”

This story was originally published on U-High Midway on February 25, 2022.