Adapted from a play, story hangs on a racial incident at a Vermont college, but suffers from staginess and stiff dialogue.
A racial hate crime involving a black student at a leafy liberal arts college in Vermont is the centerpiece for the very talky "Spinning into Butter," based, unsurprisingly, on a play – and not a very good one – by the film's co-screenwriter Rebecca Gilman. Sarah Jessica Parker, looking dowdy and brunette just in case we had "Sex and the City" on our minds, plays the school's dean. Mykelti Williamson is the local TV news reporter, an African-American, who digs into the scandal. The staging by theater director Mark Brokaw, in his first feature, is, well, stagy. I don't mind a movie where people spend a lot of time jawboning, but what they say had better be interesting. In "Spinning into Butter" we are spoon-fed the deep dark revelation that racism can exist as virulently in liberal environs as in reactionary ones. Alert the media. Grade: D+ (Rated R for language.)