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Chaos Theory
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Reviews & Ratings for
Chaos Theory More at IMDbPro »

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83 out of 103 people found the following review useful:

Chaos Theory is an honest and well-done look at a man whose world is turned upside down

8/10
Author: red_grace from United States
19 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Chaos Theory is an extremely well done film. It is a serious, emotional and at times humorous look at life and love that is incredibly honest and centers around equally honest and real characters. With the feel of a good indie flick and a strong leading man, Chaos Theory is one of those rare, genuine explorations of the human condition.

Frank Allen (Ryan Reynolds), an obsessively organized efficiency expert and top-selling author, has spent his entire life planning out every little detail and following the lists and schedules he makes for himself. He clings to controlling everything because it brings order, which gives him a sense of comfort and peace of mind.

One day, Frank's wife Susan (Emily Mortimer) sets the clocks forward ten minutes to help him be early for his schedule but accidentally sets them back ten minutes instead, making him late for his lecture on efficiency and setting off a chain of events that sends Frank's life spiraling. Through a course of seemingly random events, he learns some new information that, in effect, reveals to him that much of what he believed about his life is based on false information.

Not knowing how to deal with the revelation, Franks throws everything he's ever believed about order and efficiency out the window and starts living life on whim and chance. As he lets chaos overtake his life, he struggles to deal with the new truth that defines his life and forgive those involved.

The movie has its share of funny parts, but it really shines in its dramatic moments - when it's serious and honest. It effectively deals with things like relationships, truth, friendship and forgiveness, and it all feels true to how real people would react. As Frank and Susan try to deal with the new information, they begin to reassess their marriage and Frank questions what he's believed in for so long. His downward spiral into chaos is both interesting and realistic as well; none of it rings false. As you watch it all transpire on the screen, you're able to understand and relate to many of the emotions that Frank is struggling with.

Much of this success comes from the performance of Ryan Reynolds, an actor best known for comedic roles in movies like Waiting… and Van Wilder, but who has an intensity and seriousness about him that translates powerfully to other types of roles. This is evident in Definitely, Maybe as well as Chaos Theory, and the latter is quite a departure from the comedy work he has done previously – one he excels in and should do more often.

One scene where his talent and intensity really comes through is when Frank pulls over onto the side of the road just after he discovers the life-altering news. As he sits on the curb trying desperately not to break down, choking back tears and vomit, his pain is clearly visible in both his eyes and in his physical anguish, and it exudes off the screen. The strength of Reynolds' performance really heightens this scene, as well as the whole movie, and makes the character and his feelings relatable and evocative for the viewer. Reynolds easily carries the movie, which is even better off because of it.

Chaos Theory is an extremely honest, sometimes sad, always emotional and very real exploration of how a person deals with a drastic change in their life. With a strong and atypical performance from Ryan Reynolds, and enough humor, hope and insight to keep it from being depressing, Chaos Theory is definitely one of the more intelligent films of 2008 and shouldn't be missed.

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64 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

Truth ... The beating of the human heart

8/10
Author: David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
13 April 2008

Greetings again from the darkness. A quirky, surprising little gem from writer Daniel Taplitz and director Marcos Siega ("Pretty Persuasion"). Not in the traditional Hollywood mode, this one takes us on a very unusual path towards self-actualization.

Ryan Reynolds delivers by far his best screen performance as the OCD dad who seems to have the perfect family, job and life. The trouble is, he runs it through endless lists, often burdening his wife (the always terrific Emily Mortimer) with helping him maintain his "to do" schedule. After a most unusual spouse selection process, Mortimer, becomes disenchanted with the structure ... that is, until it is swept away in a moment of misunderstanding.

Can't give away too much here other than to say Reynolds heads towards an awakening through a bizarre series of events that leads him to a life-changing moment that involves a rowboat and his "friend" Stuart Townsend (also excellent). The story does not follow the traditional story arc, yet we are always invested in the main characters ... trying to urge them to make smart decisions! It's actually a great deal of fun.

This one probably won't reach a wide audience since none of the cast are huge draws, and neither the writer or director are big names. That's too bad because this is quality story telling, acting and overall film-making.

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44 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

A surprising gem

Author: Gordon-11 from Earth
27 July 2008

This film is about a very organised man whose life is turned into chaos by an accidental revelation.

Though there are a lot of comedic moments in the film, I think it is more of an drama about Frank finding out that organisation and efficiency does not make him any happier. This realisation and complete personal change is engagingly portrayed throughout the film. Frank's situation connects to the viewers, and easily evokes much sympathy.

The ending is touching and well told. It explores what is more important in life. Is it the job, family or deeper values such as forgiveness? "Chaos Theory" is a surprising gem. It is an engaging, heart warming and yet light hearted and comedic all at the same time. Watch it if you have the chance!

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57 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

REVIEW -- Finally a romantic comedy for the rest of us!

10/10
Author: jujube666 from United States
28 March 2008

I'm not a big romantic comedy fan so I went to Chaos Theory with low expectations. Which is why I was shocked to find myself not only laughing (instead of eye-rolling) but also experiencing a certain moisture in the ocular region.

Yes it is a comedy -- most anal, hyper organized guy totally losing it vintage Steve Martin style with a post-modern twist when he discovers his perfect life is not what it seems. But it's also a story about a guy losing himself, his wife, his daughter, his best friend and everything through a freakish but medically accurate twist of fate and fighting his way back to find himself.

The directing has an indie feel which I much prefer over the overly processed studio fare -- lots of long takes that really draw you into the characters. Ryan Reynolds is hilarious -- great physical comedy but also achieves a whole new level of sincerity. Emily Mortimer has some great spastic moments -- and, in a departure from her usual twinkle toes persona, isn't afraid to show her grumpy side. By the end of the movie, I really felt like I knew these guys. I also really enjoyed the humor -- which had a lot of those "Oh God, I've been there" moments even when the story was ratcheting up to outrageousness.

Go to see it for the shot of buck-naked Ryan Reynolds skidding across the hockey rink if nothing else!

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21 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A Rarity

7/10
Author: zyxek from Tulsa, OK
16 July 2008

Chaos Theory is a well-acted comedy that delivers laughs a the right moments while weaving an endearing tale. It never achieves greatness, but it is enjoyable throughout.

Frank Allen (Ryan Reynolds) is a professional speaker who lectures on time management, and his life is perfectly ordered and scheduled, down to the minute. When his wife (Emily Mortimer) sets his clock forward 10 minutes as a joke, his day is thrown off. When he ends up late for an out-of-town lecture, things go awry. A couple of miscommunications leads his wife to question his fidelity, and he ends up making a discovery that causes him to have his own doubts about his family life. Deciding that his strictly ordered life has done him little good, he begins to make multiple choice index cards, choosing one at random and doing what is written on the card.

Reynolds is a very under-appreciated talent, and his work in this film is spot-on. Stuart Townsend gives a strong performance as Frank's best friend, and Matreya Fedor has some great moments as Frank's 7-year old daughter. Sarah Chalke shows up briefly in an interesting role, but she isn't given that much to work with.

The movie is story is well-structured and not entirely predictable, and the pacing and timing are great. The flaw of the film, though, is the third act, which was a little over-the-top for my taste.

But it is a smart and pleasant film overall, perfect for a rental.

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19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Destiny through chaos.

8/10
Author: taysir_t3 from United States
19 July 2008

When I first came across this movie, I was expecting some a sort of personal epiphany that drives the main character to some higher state of being. Essentially a rise-to-nirvana style film. Instead I found something much more appealing and deeply human in this film. There's no bad guy, just a family and a friend who's lives are marked with ups and downs.

Without giving anything away, the movie is about love, but not in finding or keeping it. What starts as a misunderstanding between husband and wife develops quickly into a very intense situation. On a deeper level, the plot raises questions about how simply fate (order) and chance (chaos) bring together and break apart two people. Even further, in the long-run, which force wins out? destiny or circumstance?

This movie is a very pleasant departure from Hollywood and something well worth checking into.

7.5/10

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

generally charming comedy

7/10
Author: Roland E. Zwick (magneteach@aol.com) from United States
21 December 2008

Spontaneity is not a highly esteemed commodity in Frank Allen's catalogue of virtues. An efficiency trainer by avocation, Frank is a man whose own life is organized entirely around to-do lists, time charts and abstrusely calculated probabilities. Then, one day Frank becomes a victim of circumstances so utterly beyond his control that he is forced to abandon his old way of thinking and adopt a new philosophy of life altogether, that of throwing caution to the wind and letting his every mercurial whim determine the course of his actions (he shuffles index cards to determine what it is he should do next).

"Chaos Theory," a small but insightful movie written by Daniel Taplitz and directed by Marcos Siega, boasts a cleverly addled storyline, some sharp, witty dialogue and energetic performances by Reynolds, Emily Mortimer and Stuart Townsend, the latter two as Frank's wife and best friend, respectively. The plot complications get pretty hot and heavy at times but, as with all good comedy, things have a way of straightening themselves out in the end.

Though there may be a few too many musical montage sequences in the movie for my taste - they always seem to be used as shortcuts to get the heart soaring or the tear ducts flowing - the movie has a fluidity and charm that raise it above any possible shortcomings. Moreover, the Pacific Northwest setting provides a scenic backdrop for all the amusing shenanigans taking place on center stage.

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

This man will bring order to the universe...or not.

9/10
Author: mr_popcorn from every where
2 March 2009

I can't believe this one flew under my radar for almost two years. Chaos Theory is one of those rare gems in between, you never hear it being talked about but has also built quite a fanbase. Chaos Theory is a quirky, surprising little gem with a great script and an impressive vision. Directed by Marcos Siega (Pretty Persuasion), the movie works on both ends. It has enough comedy to give a chuckle or two and exact amount of drama for the love sick. Ryan Reynolds, whether you love him or hate him, is always the impressive actor and this is by far one of his best on screen performance. Emily Mortimer is always terrific and the elusive Stuart Townsend graces us with his charisma and almost-never-seen talent. This is a rarity of a gem with a great cast and a perfect blend of heartwarming drama and spot-on comedic timing.

However, its never gonna get the wide audience that it deserves mainly because the stars aren't exactly top draws in the box office which is just sad really because the wider audience would rather just watch a dude dressed as a lady in a fatsuit (I'm looking at you Tyler Perry) than real good quality film-making.

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12 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Average Fare (with some flare)

8/10
Author: finding-something from United States
13 December 2008

Let's get my bias out of the way first. Ryan Reynolds can do no wrong. I think he's as close to a Cary Grant as we'll get ever again. His face, and the many expressions it can make, are perfect for both drama and comedy, and he seems perfectly willing to commit to both extremes. In fact, in this movie, he's able to turn the tone of the movie in an instant. Oh right, he's also incredibly attractive.

Frank (Reynolds) is an efficiency expert whose day has been thrown off. The irony of being late to his own lecture on time management is not lost on him either. Through a serious of less than fortunate events, Frank manages to mount up enough circumstantial evidence of his committing adultery at least once, that his wife throws him out.

The twist, when it comes, is not altogether unexpected, but the material is treated with a humanity that makes you happy to keep watching. In one scene, Frank is streaking across a hockey rink and in another, his and Susan's (Mortimer's) foreheads are touching, and their muted sobs are pulling at heartstrings no mere romantic comedy would ever be able to play. The sort of climax of the movie is quite superb. You see great dramedic acting, and a clever script to boot. No, not a clever script, but a sincere one. Its writing makes this movie more of a comedic romance than a romantic comedy. If you don't understand that distinction, you will after watching this movie.

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Dependable "date flick" with occasion flashes of brilliance

Author: rzajac from Dongshih, Taiwan
3 November 2008

The surprising thing about Chaos Theory was the way it was rather staid "date flick" fare, but would occasionally punch through the safety barrier and say something wickedly true and profoundly, deeply passionate and beautiful.

It's a great story about truth and connection, and how sometimes connection needs to be reinstated and preserved even in the face of the failure to fully disclose the truth.

To get a little technical, there were times when I was especially appreciative of the writing. Really great, grabs-you-and-won't-let-go screen writing is rare these days; how weird to find it in a flick like this; but there you have it! Kudos! The writing in the scene leading up to Buddy sitting on the go-'round ride in the playground with Susan had me in tears; right up there with the classics.

You may have noticed a hint of a qualification in the foregoing, and that's because there were those other de rigueur features of the standard date flick I didn't appreciate so much. Didn't care for a lot of the song selections; kind of country-trite. If it weren't for the supremely humanizing bits of writing mentioned above, I feel some of the characters would have come across a bit hollow, and they otherwise sometimes teeter on the edge of falling into that pit.

But... OK: The writing, directing, acting, editing, most of the narrative pacing work just fine and shed real light on love and life.

See this flick! Heck: Take a date!

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