The Butterfly Effect

"Good"

The Butterfly Effect Review


Ashton Kutcher is a goofball. There are no two ways about it. From bumbling around as the clueless Kelso on That '70s Show to attacking his well-to-do friends on the ubiquitous Punk'd, this guy has made a hell of a living being wacky. Kutcher's noogie-giving persona does exude a confident charm, however, and that charm goes a long way in The Butterfly Effect, the heartthrob's first dramatic lead since he hit the cover of Tiger Beat.

With his innocent smirk and sincere delivery, Kutcher (who also executive produced) brings a fun simple honesty to this alternate-worlds thriller, and it's often necessary, as the subject matter ranges from heavy-duty to soap opera-sudsy. Kutcher is Evan Treborn, a college student who, after growing up suffering childhood blackouts, begins recalling lost memories. The effects are traumatic.

Evan's not just remembering, he's actually zipping back and forth on a twisted time-space continuum, witnessing different versions of his life along multiple timelines. He can now correct past mistakes and easily redirect the paths of friends and family. The idea and execution are usually engaging, but the cheap tricks and clichés are there by the fistful. Kutcher pulls us through the unevenness, though, letting a good chuckle -- and even some unpolished acting -- remind us that this is all in good fun.

What prevents The Butterfly Effect from being a smart early-year surprise is the inexcusably lazy first act. Writer/directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber (Final Destination 2 scripters) need to start somewhere, and they choose Evan's youth, filled with silly, cookie-cutter dialogue and stultifying acting by both kids and adults (poor Melora Walters). The introduction rushes painfully from scene to scene, yet feels needlessly long in total. Worse, Bress and Gruber rely on psychotic parents and abused kids to get their story moving. It's just all too easy, and the direction and story development feel like Amateur Hour.

When the plot gets to the adult Evan, the film settles in and delivers a fairly wild ride. Evan discovers the breadth of his powers -- again, Kutcher's wide-eyed youth is a plus here -- and initiates time travel, made thrilling by a colorful, engaging, rattling series of special effects that never get tiresome. Once Evan reaches back in time, Bress and Gruber reveal certain story elements previously held back from the audience -- and Evan. It's a narrative gimmick that's been done before, but the filmmakers do it with an entertaining pizzazz and intensity. And, of course, as the title hints, once Evan makes particular changes in the past, other unforeseen ones rear their ugly heads in the present.

It's easy to picture an actor like, say, Billy Crudup in this lead role, with the subject matter "aged up" and given more substantial weight. Nonetheless, considering their Final Destination past, Bress and Gruber are ambitious in their attempt to create a "serious" thriller. The violence, while not visually revealing, is fairly shocking. The downturns that occur in characters' lives are usually overdone (Amy Smart's role especially), but they're still affecting. And even though their script relies too often on quick dialogue summaries to keep teen viewers up-to-speed, Bress and Gruber avoid any excessive winking at the audience.

The Ashton Kutcher crowd (and you know who you are) will probably love this film. Kutcher gets to play strong, scruffy, frightened, remorseful, and even romantic; his loyal fans will see The Many Faces of Ashton. While most actors usually work through this range of emotions in the classroom, this guy has enough Hollywood power to give it a try onscreen and get paid. Now who's the goofball?

If you want to live in a world so unfair that Ashton Kutcher can travel through time, you'll want to check out the film's DVD, which features a director's cut as well as the original theatrical cut. Commentary from the writers/directors, a pair of making-of documentaries, and a handful of theory-oriented docs about the iffy physics of the movie. A trivia track and deleted scenes round out the disc, all of which is presented in New Line's innovative Infinifilm format, which lets you access all of this from within the movie.

"Here's a little move I like to call 'The Butterfly Effect.'"



The Butterfly Effect

Facts and Figures

Run time: 113 mins

In Theaters: Friday 23rd January 2004

Box Office USA: $57.7M

Box Office Worldwide: $96.1M

Budget: $13M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: FilmEngine, Katalyst Films, BenderSpink, Province of British Columbia Production Services Tax Credit, New Line Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 55 Rotten: 113

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , A.J. Dix, , , J. C. Spink

Starring: as Evan Treborn, as Kayleigh Miller, as Tommy Miller, as Lenny Kagan, as Andrea Treborn, as George Miller, as Evan Treborn age 7, as Thumper, as Dr. Redfield, Kevin G. Schmidt as Lenny age 13, as Tommy age 13, as Jason Treborn, Irene Gorovaia as Kayleigh age 13, as Evan Treborn age 13, as Tommy age 7, Lorena Gale as Mrs. Boswell, Kendall Cross as Mrs. Kagan, John Tierney as Priest, Ted Friend as Anchor, John B. Lowe as Professor Carter, Camille Sullivan as Cricket, Tara Wilson as Heidi, Jesse Hutch as Spencer

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.