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The Butterfly Effect (2004)

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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:
Ashton Kutcher ... Evan
Melora Walters ... Andrea
Amy Smart ... Kayleigh
Elden Henson ... Lenny
William Lee Scott ... Tommy
John Patrick Amedori ... Evan at 13
Irina Gorovaia ... Kayleigh at 13 (as Irene Gorovaia)
Kevin G. Schmidt ... Lenny at 13
Jesse James ... Tommy at 13
Logan Lerman ... Evan at 7
Sarah Widdows Sarah Widdows ... Kayleigh at 7
Jake Kaese Jake Kaese ... Lenny at 7
Cameron Bright ... Tommy at 7
Eric Stoltz ... Mr. Miller
Callum Keith Rennie ... Jason
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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:

Change one thing, Change everything. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 January 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Butterfly Effect See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,100,000, 25 January 2004

Gross USA:

$57,938,693

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$95,707,652
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The teenage versions of Evan, Kayleigh, and Tommy go see Se7en (1995) at a movie theater that's also showing Dumb and Dumber (1994). Both of those movies, as well as this one, were released by New Line Cinema. And Elden Henson who plays the grown-up Lenny can also be seen in Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003). See more »

Goofs

Although he is not yet convicted of a crime, Evan is held in a penitentiary (he should be in a jail). 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.
See more »

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 »

Alternate Versions

The director's cut contains a few new scenes:
  • Evan discovering that his grandfather had the same gift, and also was considered crazy, like his father
  • Evan and Andrea go to a palm reader that tells Evan he has no lifeline
  • Andrea telling Evan she was pregnant twice before he was born.
  • A scene in the prison where the prisoners publicly read Evan's journals.
  • A scene in the prison where the other prisoners come to rape Evan one night.
  • An extended hospital scene where Evan is visiting sick Andrea.
  • An alternate ending.
See more »


Soundtracks

My Elastic Eye
Written by Tom Rowlands, Ed Simons and Bernard Estardy
Performed by The Chemical Brothers
Courtesy of Virgin Astralwerks Records
Under license from EMI & TV Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
How Kelso lost his mind.
25 July 2011 | by Jonathon_NatsisSee all my reviews

Every so often we all seem to move away from the usual nothings we talk about amongst our friends, and instead get into a deeply philosophical conversation about the workings of Chaos Theory and the existence of parallel universes. No? Okay, just me then. In any case, this discussion just the other day led to a friend recommending The Butterfly Effect, a film that puts both a stylistic and sinister spin on the idea that even the mere flapping of a butterfly's wings can result in drastic changes in another place or time. Being initially sceptical because of the generally negative reaction from critics, I was certainly not disappointed by film's end.

Ashton Kutcher couldn't be more different that his concurrent role as the dimwitted Kelso from That '70s Show in his lead performance as Evan Treborn, a man who has suffered blackouts since his childhood, and realises that he can access and relive vital gaps in his memory through the help of other sources like journals or images. He uses this skill to, in his eyes, right the wrongs of the past. Namely, injustices that were performed upon his friends Lenny and Tommy and only love Kayleigh (Amy Smart). What he doesn't realise is that the changes he thinks are made for the better actually result in a severely changed future that threatens his own life.

Without trying to sound like a sadist, The Butterfly Effect excels in presenting a consistently dark, melancholy atmosphere. Indeed, there is hardly a happy moment in the entire film, although that may be untrue depending on which ending you watch (more on that later). Any event that looks as if it might provide a slim ray of hope for Evan to make things right is quickly dashed by a sudden escalation of the plot, maintaining the viewer's interest the whole way through. The film doesn't shy away from heavy subject matter either, including prostitution, murder, paedophilia and drug use, all of which culminates in an enjoyably gritty, underground tone.

Positively, the menacing nature of the movie isn't weighed down by comic relief. I suppose when many of us think of this sort of plot, we first think of the Simpsons Halloween special when Homer invents the time-travelling toaster. Not knowing quite how dark the film would turn out to be, I was concerned The Butterfly Effect would go down a similar path, in which Evan keeps returning to the present to find that all humans have grown wings or Pauly D has become President. Instead, any changes are limited to the persona of the characters, rather than altering the physical environment, which was definitely the professional path to take.

The pacing is another strength. For a film that comes in well under two hours, directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber deserve credit for packing a lot in, and doing it well. Certainly, some thrillers benefit from slow-moving scenes to draw suspense (the superb Eyes Wide Shut, for example) but Butterfly manages to combine compounding urgency with engaging character development in constructing a fast-moving film that requires both thought and stamina to decipher, without being needlessly confusing.

Oddly, the film possesses four different final scenes, and so the lasting message of the movie may differ depending on the copy viewed. My favourite ending is the 'official' one applied to the theatrical release. It is satisfying, yet open-ended, as is the case with its alternate cut. Another is uncharacteristically upbeat and illogical, perhaps suggested in the editing room as a way of appeasing confused screen-test viewers. But if you really want to get down to brass tax, go with the Director's Cut: a far more morbid conclusion with a surreal twist. Intrigued? Don't let me stop you.

*There's nothing I love more than a bit of feedback, good or bad. So drop me a line on jnatsis@iprimus.com.au and let me know what you thought of my review.*


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