Feb. 18, 2004 – Ashton Kutcher is going to need more than Demi Moore to bail him out of this one. From all reports, even his famous girlfriend won't be able to combat the effect "The Butterfly Effect" is having on those who judge these things.
Film critic Bob Longino in the Atlanta Journal Constitution says that "nobody associated with making this movie can possibly emerge unscathed." Boston Globe critic Ty Burr cuts right to the chase: "a film of singularly boneheaded conceits." A Yahoo user reviewer calls it "The Butterfly Defect."
Anyhow, here's how it goes, more or less. Evan Treborn (Kutcher) is a brilliant but fun-loving college student who, alas, discovers how to go back in time to dredge up childhood memories which, as it turns out, would have been much better left undredged. Evan has inherited this ability from his mentally ill father.
Evan had a childhood filled with blackouts. One day while reading his childhood journals, he discovers that if he reads an entry which coincides with one of his blackouts, he is transported back to that moment, and he experiences the things his psyche has buried (probably in a gesture of goodwill).
As Burr puts it, "Evan, silly boy, keeps trying to change events and keeps getting hung out to dry by time's pinball machine."
All this travel turns up, among other horrors, multiple beatings, kiddie-porn movies, a mother and child who die in an explosion, and a dog that gets burned alive. If you are still hanging around, you find that what Evan really wants to do is save his childhood sweetheart Kayleigh (Amy Smart) from her abusive father (Eric Stolz), who, according to Burr, "stepped one rung down the career ladder in accepting this role."
Anyone over the age of 14 who has seen a few time-travel movies knows that messing with the past is usually a really bad idea. And making movies about it takes talent, imagination and gentle execution.
The title refers to what has become by now an old chestnut — a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the planet may create chaos on the other side. Maybe.
According to Burr, "Kutcher ambles through it all with the shaggy self-assurance of someone who believes his own press, and toward the end of 'Butterfly' he starts hamming it up as though even he weren't buying any of this tosh. It's a ruinous mistake."
The movie is the directorial debut of screenwriters Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber ("Final Destination 2"), and it looks as if they have nowhere to go but up.
It is not often a movie comes our way about which nobody can dream up anything nice to say. Oops, I'm wrong. One Yahoo guest reviewer writes (and just in time): "Overall I'd say that the film made me jump out of my pants a few times, made me think even more, and gave me an ending that almost guaranteed an 'alternate ending' option on the DVD when it comes out."
"The Butterfly Effect" runs 1:53 and is rated R for violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use.
It's playing at Market Square East on St. Thomas, where "Mystic River" and "Cold Mountain," both highly praised by critics and up for multiple Oscar awards, also are currently being shown.
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