VIDEO: The trailer for Spinning Into Butter
The title of this relevant but strained drama comes from the tale of Little Black Sambo, who's invoked in a series of anonymous threats to a black student at a progressive Vermont college. Sarah Jessica Parker's dean of students tries to maintain equilibrium as administrators stage a half-baked "race forum" that ends in a fistfight.
Adapted from Rebecca Gilman's play, the film examines the point at which walking on eggshells in a multicultural microcosm — a Nuyorican up for a scholarship bristles at being termed Hispanic — turns into navigating a minefield. Its high points are the dialogues between Parker and Mykelti Williamson as a reporter covering the hate crimes. Prefaced by flashbacks to the difficult time Parker had working at a predominantly black college in Chicago, the pair's dialogue about prejudice proves viscerally and intellectually satisfying.
Otherwise, director Mark Brokaw casts terrific actors — like Miranda Richardson and Beau Bridges — as the college muckety-mucks, then has them act like boobs.