The Butterfly Effect (2004)

reviewed by
Bob Bloom


THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT (2004) 3 stars out of 4. Starring Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Eric Stoltz, William Lee Scott, Eldon Henson, Ethan Suplee, Melora Walters and John Patrick Amedori. Screenplay and directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber. Rated R. Running time: 1 hour, 53 mins.

Suppose you had the power to change one moment in your life - to erase one tragedy.

Do you think it would alter your future for the better? And what would the consequences be for those around you?

These are the questions asked and answered in The Butterfly Effect. Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) has blacked out several painful episodes from his childhood. His psychologist suggests he keep journals, writing down his daily events.

In college, Evan discovers he can use his journals to trigger his return to the past where his adult self - in his child's body - can undo certain events. However, every time Evan prevents one tragedy, it precipitates another.

Even though he learns from his past failures, Evan cannot prevent the fallout of his alteration of events from adversely affecting those he loves.

His various journeys to exorcise his personal demons constantly result in disastrous consequences for friends and family, and especially for Kayleigh (Amy Smart), the young woman he has loved since they were children.

The movie's universal theme is the reason The Butterly Effect works. We all wish that we could go back in time and change one incident, undo one wrong.

This smart feature, though, delves into the havoc such a dynamic could create.

Most films dealing with time travel ignore paradoxes and such anomolies as the butterfly effect, which refers to the theory that if a butterfly flaps its wings in New York, it eventually could create a typhoon in Japan.

Co-writers and co-directors Eric Bress and J. Macleye Gruber, the team who penned Final Destination 2, tackle this issue head-on, which is what makes this outing so fascinating.

The filmmakers defy audience expectations and keep suspense building by continually creating new crises for Evan to resolve.

Kutcher does well as the beleagured young man, a decent person who wants not only to free himself from his burden but save his friends as well.

Smart has a more difficult role as she most play various incarnations of Kayleigh, changing following each of Evan's "fixes."

The other actors associated with Evan - Elden Hanson as his best friend, Lenny, and William Lee Scott as Kayliegh's brother, Tommy - must also show their characters in different lights, depending on the situations.

Among the standout supporting characters is Thumper, played by Ethan Suplee, best remembered for his part in Remember the Titans.

The Butterfly Effect gives you something to ponder. At about 1hour and 45 minutes, it continually moves and holds your interest.

Bob Bloom is the film critic at the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, Ind. He can be reached by e-mail at bbloom@journalandcourier.com or at bob@bloomink.com. Bloom's reviews also can be found at the Journal and Courier Web site: www.jconline.com

Other reviews by Bloom can be found at the Rottentomatoes Web site: www.rottentomatoes.com or at the Internet Movie Database Web site: www.imdb.com/M/reviews_by?Bob+Bloom

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