[Movie Review] The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters, Elden Henson, William Lee Scott, Eric Stoltz
Directors: Eric Bress, J Mackye Gruber
Genre: Sci-Fi
Cert: 15
Released: 2004

Ever wondered what you would do if you had the power to change the past? Imagine you could change that thing you said that upset your mother or perhaps take a different route to work that would have seen you avoid an accident. Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber (possibly attempting to erase the memory of co-writing “Final Destination 2”) bring us “The Butterfly Effect”, a film where that very opportunity is afforded to Evan Treborn.

Although the movie begins with an adult Evan (Kutcher) somewhat panicking, stuffing himself under a desk, we immediately roll back thirteen years to his childhood. Evan’s father is in a mental institution, so he lives with his mother (Walters) in quintessential middle-America. As you might guess, all is not well. Evan endures blackouts at times of emotional stress and there’s an indication that he may suffer from the same illness that has led to the hospitalisation of his father.

Back to present day and Evan is in college, sharing a room with obese, sex-crazy gothic Thumper (Suplee). He’s a psychology student who is now seven years without a blackout, keeping track of his life via a series of journals that he has kept since he was seven. But things go wrong for Evan when he accidentally discovers that he has the ability to revisit the memories that have been blacked out, enabling him to actually change the events that took place. He decides to try and do this for the greater good but discovers that everything he does has an effect on everyone else too. Consumed by the desire to ‘get it right’ and make everyone happy, Evan continuously returns to his past memories. The only problem is that getting it right second, third or fourth time is no easier than it was the first time.

“The Butterfly Effect” is one of those movie scripts that has occurred out of someone’s desire to write something original. Okay so traveling to the past and changing it is not an original idea, but kudos to Gruber and Bress who have certainly put a fresh coating on the art of time-travel. However, the execution of the movie is another thing altogether. Evan’s “mind-travel” reminds me of the closing scenes of “Wayne’s World” where Wayne and Garth perform a series of ludicrous endings to give their audience value for money. Something doesn’t quite work. Perhaps it’s the (brave/stupid – delete as applicable) casting of career jester Kutcher in the lead role or just the director’s slapdash eagerness to find some sort of ‘x’ factor that might turn “The Butterfly Effect” in to an A-grade cult classic.

Kutcher is actually not that bad, well certainly not the botch that I expected his performance to be. But I still wonder what Jake Gyllenhaal was doing that he wasn’t pursued for the role.

It’s not a car crash by any means, but it is an unbridled mess at times. Strange then that it somehow remains somewhat captivating and hard to stop watching.

3halfstar

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