Cinequest 2019: The Tiny Life of Butcher Duke

Butcher Duke has had a rough go of it recently. He lost his wife to cancer and hasn’t spoken to his daughter in several years due to an incident on the tennis court. To make matters worse, his mom is going to kick him out of the house in nine days. But an opportunity presents itself to Butcher that could change his life forever.

Twenty years ago Butcher Duke lost a tennis match that could have won him a mobile home unit from ex-pro Creek Thompson. Following the match his life went into a tailspin including pushing away his daughter, a talented tennis player. Fast forward to present day and Creek Thompson’s son, Delta, has been an absolute failure in inheriting his father’s mobile home business. An idea hatches to pit Creek against Butcher in order to drum up publicity and business. Butcher sees it as his last and only chance at redemption.

While the film starts off as laugh a minute, it quickly shows it heart as the characters are revealed. Some of the jokes fall a little flat, especially when it comes to stereotypes, but the actors are committed no matter how silly. While Butcher may be what some would consider a failure, he certainly is beyond likable. He still coaches tennis youth, and even though his current youth team hasn’t won a match – or point – for several years, he shows them the love and care that they all need. Many look to him as a father figure, and he treats them like the winners they are despite their losses on the tennis court.

Of course this relates to his incident with his daughter and how he can or cannot reconcile with her. In fact, Butcher doesn’t even know his daughter is engaged and has to find out from his mom. While the story follows Butcher, it is Creek Thompson (Chad Werner) who absolutely steals every scene he is in as the son of legendary Delta Thompson. While failing at his father’s business despite his best efforts, his real passion lies elsewhere, plus he is in love with one of his co-workers which makes for several touching moments.

The film has shades of Napeleon Dynamite all over it and triple threat writer/director/star Mike Akel (Butcher) has full comedic talent on display. While the film will probably not make a larger splash overall in the world of cinema, it is worth it to watch a man’s journey to redemption. Will Butcher reconcile with his daughter? Will Butcher find redemption in himself? What is Creek’s role in all of this? Will Butcher finally win the mobile home? The only way to find out is to check out The Tiny Life of Butcher Duke.

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About Mac Williams
Mac is freelance writer/dramaturg. In addition to fanboy planet, he also covers high school sports for Prep2Prep. As a dramaturg he has worked with such theatre companies as City Lights Theatre Company, San Jose Stage, San Jose Repertory Theatre & Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He also coaches Boy's Varsity Soccer and helps out in the Performing Arts Department of Archbishop Mitty High School. Proud Disneyland Pass Holder & D23 Member.