The Butterfly Effect (2004)

reviewed by
Steve Rhodes

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****):  **

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT is a frustrating film that, while laughably bad, is based on an intriguing premise. Something like a bad version of BEDAZZLED but with nightmares instead of wishes and with Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart (ROAD TRIP) replacing the much better lovebirds, Brendan Fraser and Frances O'Connor; the story concerns a guy named Evan Treborn (Kutcher) who suffers severe blackouts.

During these times in his own personal black hole, bad, really bad things happen to Evan and his buddies: Kayleigh, Lenny and Tommy. (John Patrick Amedori plays Evan at age 13 and Logan Lerman plays him at age 8. Smart plays the grownup Kayleigh.) When Evan wakes -- with a bad headache -- he sees the disasters which have just occurred and for which he is frequently blamed. The movie's overcooked plot and it's penchant for sudden loud noises will undoubtedly give you headaches too.

The story gets more convoluted still when Evan realizes that, by reading in his old journals and concentrating on the past, he can go back in time and "fix" the problems of his childhood. Since one of these problems caused the death of a friend, there is motivation for his time travel. (His father, whose permanent home is the loony bin, suffers the same affliction as his son, but this whole part of the story line is a narrative dead end.)

Yes, you guessed it! Altering the past messes up the present in truly horrible ways. Even Tommy, the demented little kid whom we witness hitting people hard with lead pipes and burning a dog alive, changes in each iteration, as does his sister Kayleigh, a homely girl who appears destined to work at a dead-end job at the local diner.

Every time you're just about ready to give up completely on this schlocky movie with its ridiculous lines and sloppy logic, it up and does something worthwhile that sucks you back in. But, not to worry, you'll soon be laughing at it, and I do mean "at" it again. It may come as no surprise when I tell you the credentials of the filmmakers. THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT is written and directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, whose only other credits are as the writers of FINAL DESTINATION 2. This second effort of theirs is much better than their first but that isn't exactly a huge compliment.

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT runs 1:53. The film is rated R for "violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

The film opens nationwide in the United States on Friday, January 23, 2004. In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the AMC and the Century theaters.

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