In association with Amazon.com
Review published
January 26, 2004
A.J.'s Rating:  1.5 Stars
The Butterfly Effect
Directed By:  Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber
Written By:  Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber (story)
Starring:  Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Kevin Schmidt, Melora Walters,
Andrea Treborn, Elden Henson, Eric Stoltz, John Patrick Amedori,
Cameron Bright, William Lee Scott, Brandy Heidrick, Ethan Suplee,
Grant Thompson, Logan Lerman, Daniel Spink

MPAA:  Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use.
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    Call me naive, but there are a few things I don't enjoy seeing in movies.  A short list includes child abuse, pedophilia, cruelty to animals, Tom Green, suicide, and last but not least, baby killing.  If a film deals with a couple things from this list, that's one thing, but The Butterfly Effect features five out of six of these sure-fire crowd pleasers. And then, as a bonus, it throws in Ashton Kutcher with a wicked migraine.  Dude, where's my Prozac?! 
   
    The story concerns seven-year-old Evan Treborn, played by.Logan Lerman.  Evan's having an extremely traumatic childhood, but he doesn't know it.  Nearly every time something horrible happens to him, he blacks out and can't remember the events.  Because of this, Evan begins keeping a journal, hoping one day that its entries will help him regain his missing memories.  How convenient for The Butterfly Effect's convoluted yet strangely one-dimensional plotline... talk about paradox!  Meanwhile, Evan's mother fears for her son's health, since his father showed many of the same symptoms.  Don't worry though, because Evan's dad is now safe, sound, and strapped down at the local mental institution.
  
   Fast-forward about fourteen years.  Evan, now played by Ashton Kutcher, is a brilliant college student searching to discover the secrets of memory.  You read correctly, Ashton Kutcher is a brilliant college student.  Have you stopped laughing yet?  Okay, I'll continue.  Evan finds that if he concentrates while reading his journal entries, he can go back to the time of the event.  What's more, he can change the outcome!  Seems like the perfect way to erase his traumatic past, eh?  The time-warped consequences that follow are similar to those of movies like Back to the Future II, except that The Butterfly Effect is much darker and only unintentionally funny. 
   
    As far as acting is concerned, Ashton Kutcher's performance is nothing more than a screen test of his limited dramatic abilities.  The most amusing part is how painfully obvious it is that Kutcher knows this.  He must be hoping that The Butterfly Effect will launch his career as the next Keanu Reeves.  That-a-boy, Ashton, set those goals high!
   
    So, you may be wondering what I did enjoy about this movie.  Well, in the beginning it showed a lot of promise, and the performances of the children who played Evan and his friends were better than anything from their adult counterparts.  Also, I can't fault the directing team of Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, as the film is visually impressive.  However, I do fault them for also having written the screenplay, which has holes in logic big enough to drive a DeLorean through. 
   
    Now, if you'll excuse me, I must consult my own journal about the experience of having to sit through The Butterfly Effect.  Perhaps I can time-travel back and buy a ticket to Torque instead.  It's worth a shot... after all, what's the worst that could happen?