The Butterfly Effect (2004)

reviewed by
Joe Lopez

The Butterfly Effect
**1/2 (out of 4)
Review written by Joseph Lopez

Somewhere between growing up in the '70s, searching for his car (dude!), and making celebrities cry, Ashton Kutcher became Hollywood's new "It" guy. But it seems Ashton realizes that not-so-prestigious title tends to only last for a short time. Sooner then later the allotted fifteen minutes of fame graced upon the "It" guy run out. The public finds a new "It" to obsess over. What happens to the old "It" guy? Well that depends. Some "It" guys, like Tom Cruise, step up a level and become bona fide stars. Others, like Judd Nelson, fade away into oblivion. The ones who stick around seem to branch out, try new things instead of sticking simply to what's gained them "It" status. With The Butterfly Effect, Kutcher proves his intent to be a Hollywood mainstay for years to come. The film is far different from Ashton's past projects. Question is, does Kutcher really have the talent to stay a star or is fifteen minutes all he deserves?

Ashton stars here as Evan Treborn, a college student who stumbles across the unique ability to move back in time. After the girl Evan always wanted to be with commits suicide, he decides to go back to their childhood and set things right. Thing is, while Evan's intentions are good, the results are anything but. For every should-save-the-day change he makes to the past, a whole new event occurs that leads to nothing but distress for Evan's friends and family.

The plot is pretty captivating. Definitely something we haven't seen before. But the movie suffers some serious problems that almost seems to hold the story back. First, a few of the "back in time" moments just don't work. This may be a fantasy, and thus playing by different rules then reality allows, but you still can't help to apply a little common sense and see right through the set ups. The second serious problem here is, not too surprisingly, Mr. Kutcher. Don't get me wrong, Ashton seems to have potential as an actor. He could be molded quite nicely into a viable leading man. It'll just take a great director to pull that type of performance out of him. Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber couldn't do it. There are far too many times here where it seems like Ashton is ready to break out laughing. In a film dealing with topics like pedophilia and psychosis, seeing the star combating a case of the chuckles can't help but distract from the story.

Kutcher deserves credit, he was willing to go outside of his established comedic skills and try something completely different. Ashton may even have the talent to pull serious roles like this off. He's not there yet though. With a little more work, and a director who can wring the talent out of even the driest sponge, Kutcher's fifteen minutes could last for a long time. Hey Ashton, if you're reading this (and I know you are), give Paul Thomas Anderson a call. He made Adam Sandler seem worthy of an Oscar. Who knows, Anderson could do the same for you.

-Joe Lopez
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X-Language: en
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X-RT-TitleID: 1129226
X-RT-AuthorID: 10052
X-RT-RatingText: 2.5/4

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