Posted on 1/22/04
Squashing The Butterfly Effect
Let me begin by saying that I am not an Ashton Kutcher fan. Actually, I was the president of the â€śI hate Ashton Kutcher Club.â€ť Well, not really, but you get the point. I went to see The Butterfly Effect more out of curiosity than any real desire to see the film. Could Kutcher actually pull off a role where he was to be taken seriously? Could he actually be believable as an intelligent human being? Would he say, â€śDudeâ€ť? I wanted, so very much, for all the answers to be negative because I really, really, don't like him. Though he wasn't that great, he wasn't that awful either. I was thoroughly surprised to say the least.
The Butterfly Effect is a time travel story with a twist. Instead of traveling in time physically, Evan Treborn (Kutcher) can somehow travel back inhabiting his own body and manipulate events in his life, which have effects on the people around him as well. The story begins with his childhood, where strange things happen to him that no one is able to figure out. Strange fugue states make his life difficult but not entirely unlivable. Later in life, when he is in college, he tries to find the reasoning behind these blackouts and stumbles onto his talent. I say stumble because his ability is never explained, even though it shows him on the road of enlightenment.
Evan's main motive for going back in time is to fix the things that he had done wrong that may have led to the tragedy involving the first, and only, girl he has ever loved (Amy Smart). It is through his compassion for her that a series of events transpire that prove that he has not the wisdom to play God, though he keeps trying when things go from bad to worse.
There are a lot of things wrong with this movie, first and foremost is the fact that the entire theory behind the time traveling doesn't work. The way that he does it and the effects that are generated are implausible at best. I don't mean that time traveling itself is implausible, but the effects of it portrayed in this movie contradict each other from scene to scene. Whether Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, who both wrote and directed the film, didn't see these contradictions, didn't care, or thought the audience would not be swift enough to catch on, is something to be debated. All I know is that it just doesn't work. I won't go into detail here because it would ruin the movie, but if you stop to think about it after seeing the film, you will probably find that these contradictions are quite apparent.
Another thing wrong with this film is that none of the actors involved are very good. Ashton Kutcher has about as much talent as a bag of paint chips, and Amy Smart in her different guises are about as believable as Satan on a snowboard. The other two central characters affected by Evan's foibles are equally bad, regardless of what age group they belong to. All four characters are shown at eight, thirteen, and adult ages, and all are mediocre at best. I don't wish to be needlessly cruel, but no matter how intense a scene was supposed to be, I could feel absolutely nothing. There is a scene where Amy Smart screams and cries and flails her arms about, but there isn't a single tear in her eye. Not even a promise of one. I thought I was watching some has-been TV show from the eighties the acting was so poor. Nevertheless, I will give it a single mark in its favor because I could tell they were all doing their best. Call me a softy. Actually, there was one aspect of Kutcher's character that was totally believable, that is that he is a wuss. Throughout the movie he gets his ass kicked, runs away, and begs people to protect him. It makes me wonder if that was the only part of the character Kutcher could relate to. Who knows? But in this movie he would have ran away from a cross-dressing Nazi dwarf killing a puppy.
So, I'm sure you're wondering, â€śApart from the poor acting and the ridiculous concept, what else did you love about it?â€ť The answer to that is that it ended. Okay, okay, I'm being a bit harsh. To be honest, I don't think I walked away any stupider than I already am, and I did find that I actually did enjoy it a bit, and above allâ€¦you can really tell that everybody involved with this project tried his or her best. It was a bit of a failure, but I'm going to give it a â€śfairâ€ť review because of the effort put into it. There were a lot of things I didn't like about it, but there is one important thing that I did like. Ashton Kutcher didn't say, â€śDude!â€ť Not even once.
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