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The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Evan Treborn suffers blackouts during significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life by reading his journal.
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1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Kayleigh at 13 (as Irene Gorovaia)
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Sarah Widdows ...
Jake Kaese ...
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Storyline

Evan Treborn grows up in a small town with his single, working mother and his friends. He suffers from memory blackouts where he suddenly finds himself somewhere else, confused. Evan's friends and mother hardly believe him, thinking he makes it up just to get out of trouble. As Evan grows up he has fewer of these blackouts until he seems to have recovered. Since the age of seven he has written a diary of his blackout moments so he can remember what happens. One day at college he starts to read one of his old diaries, and suddenly a flashback hits him like a brick! Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Verändere die Zukunft, durch die Vergangenheit (Change the future, through the past.) See more »

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

23 January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El efecto mariposa  »

Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$17,065,227 (USA) (25 January 2004)

Gross:

$57,938,693 (USA)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All of the prison scenes were filmed in a real prison (Washington State) with real prisoners. See more »

Goofs

When in the diner with prostitute Kayleigh, the slice of pie constantly changes direction when alternating between Evan and Kayleigh's shoulder views. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[reading aloud as he writes a note]
Evan: If anyone finds this, it means my plan didn't work and I'm already dead. But if I can somehow go back to the beginning of all of this, I might be able to save her.
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Crazy Credits

The title, "The Butterfly Effect," is superimposed over a depiction of a butterfly beating its wings, which is itself superimposed upon an X-ray profile of a human brain. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Supernatural: My Heart Will Go On (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

My Elastic Eye
Written by Tom Rowlands, Ed Simons and Le Baron (as Bernard Estardy)
Performed by The Chemical Brothers
Courtesy of Virgin Astralwerks Records
Under license from EMI & TV Music
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Promises more than it delivers
28 October 2005 | by (Baltimore, MD) – See all my reviews

If we want to analyze where this movie fails, we can look no further than the title. It alludes to a popular metaphor in chaos theory, the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings could cause a storm on the other side of the world. It also draws heavily on Ray Bradbury's classic short story in which the entire history of mankind is affected by someone stepping on an insect.

Based on this background, you'd think this movie would be about how tiny, trivial events can have monumental, unpredictable consequences. I would have liked to see a film that truly addresses this possibility, since most time-travel movies ignore it. In "Back to the Future," for example, I could never believe that Marty would ever be able to set the past straight after his initial interference. Just his setting foot in the 1950s ought to have threatened his existence. Why? It's quite simple. Even though his parents will get married to each other, how can he be sure they'll have the same kids? "Back to the Future" set the standard for the genre by narrowing the scope of possible changes when dealing with time paradoxes.

The main problem with "The Butterfly Effect" is that it doesn't transcend this level but simply thinks that it does. Take the scene where Kutcher tries to stop the exploding mailbox. The chain reaction of events that result from this act may be drastic, but there is nothing unpredictable about it. He affects a crucial event in his life and the result is a straightforward, logical consequence, hardly akin to stepping on an insect and changing the course of man. The writers could have used far more imagination when devising the plot. Other changes that the character makes are unconvincing, such as the notion that he could prevent recurrent child abuse simply by threatening someone on a single occasion. That scene, in any case, is not a good example of little things affecting the world in big ways. It's an example of wishful thinking, plain and simple. When the scenario finally goes wrong, it happens because of the way Kutcher's character acts in the altered present, not because of the altered time-line itself.

The film's first forty-five minutes are somewhat more promising. These early scenes deal with Kutcher's childhood experiences, how he blacks out whenever his life becomes too traumatic. It's an intriguing setup that would have left me wondering where the story was headed had I not already seen the trailer, where I learned that it was going to be about time travel. On a dramatic level, the movie's biggest failing is that it never follows through with the tone it sets up in the beginning. We're promised a thriller, but the movie degenerates into what can best be described as an episodic black comedy, almost a dark version of "Bedazzled."

This is sort of entertaining, but I was hoping for more. I may have been influenced by the fact that shortly before seeing the film, I read "Bid Time Return," the Richard Matheson novel on which the 1980 movie "Somewhere in Time" is based. This book, even more than the movie adaptation, strongly leads us to suspect that the time-traveling experience occurs only in the protagonist's mind. "The Butterfly Effect" has a similar ambiguity that it never truly addresses, perhaps because mainstream audiences would have found such an approach too disturbing.

You may notice that I have so far not talked about the acting, and I will resist the temptation to rag on Kutcher's performance more than others have done. He's not terribly engaging, but it's not all his fault (especially considering that his character is played by other actors for a good portion of the film). The real problem lies at the level of the script, which doesn't give Kutcher much to do. The film is so plot-driven it doesn't spend much time on its characters.

Ultimately, this movie has nothing new to contribute to the time travel genre. While it tries to pass itself off as a twist on the old premise, it quickly becomes a fairly routine thriller about a man tweaking his past. I hope that the next time they decide to do such a film, they'll leave cool metaphors like butterfly effects to a script that is truly willing to deal with such concepts instead of simply pretending to.


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