The Butterfly Effect (2004)
Director: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
Upon the loss of his sweetheart Kayleigh (Smart), Evan (Kutcher) imminently confronts his childhood traumas which he had blacked out while growing up. In the process, he figures out a way to travel back in time and eventually does so in the attempt to make the wrong things right and save Kayleigh. The problem is that every action he poses in the past causes an un-wanted reaction in his “new” present. Lesson of the day, whichever way you hit it, life will never be perfect or make sense for that matter. HAVE A BLAST!
"Every time I try to go back in time and help someone, everything just goes wrong"-- Evan
Some movies (like say "Terminator 3") help me escape my existence, forget my troubles, dismiss my past and allow me to enter another realm for two hours. Other movies, like this one, do the exact opposite in basically echoing my own childhood, my own ghosts and slapping them up on the big screen for my own viewing pleasure or dis-pleasure, depending how I look at it .
"The Butterfly Effect" was a harsh way to start the day for me, where it tackled the hardships that many of us had to go through as children and the hypothetical question that comes with it now that we are “dysfunctional” to-any-degree adults: “What if?” What if we could go back in time and change the awful wrongs to which we were subjected, would that make everything today right, would we still be who we are now, would our loved ones be in better positions and would we be happier? Props to writers and directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber for telling this tale and addressing its thought-provoking questions in a unique, mature and gripping fashion, while dipping the whole in a cup of sci-fi for good measure.
This film worked on many levels with the more important one for me being the human one. If it wasn’t the poignant love story (which was the core of it all) or the painstaking drama the kids went through hitting me hard (felt like "Stand By Me" on acid), it was Evan’s coping with each of his “new” realities, that affected me. All that to say, I was kept in the game first and foremost because of the characters, my investment in them and their dire predicaments. It also helped that the cast found here was beyond top-notch, therefore giving the whole a much appreciated dose of extra-credibility. All of the child actors, in particular, nailed their respective parts amazingly and in consequence, provided a strong foundation for the adult actors (such as Kutcher and Smart) to build upon. With lesser acting talent at hand, I doubt the picture would’ve been as effective.
To round things up nicely, the flick came through strong as a dark and atmospheric supernatural thriller. I relished how the narrative basically functioned as a puzzle with the big picture fully clear solely when the end credits rolled (and even then, I want a second viewing, I’m sure I’ll get even more out of it). And although the supernatural device (time travel) brought a lot to the table in terms of chills and thrills, it was its use to evoke existential questions about life, choices, consequences and fate that made it worth sitting through for yours truly. This film had something to say and aimed higher than simple entertainment and in my eyes, succeeded. I feel that anybody with a “life questioning” bone in his/her body should get a lot out of this butterfly.
On the minute downside, I did feel that this tale became a tad redundant as it went along with the constant changing of realities almost (I said almost) becoming comical at some points. I doubt that was the intended tone. The flick also lost some of its initial focus on the “love story”. Don’t get me wrong, the “love story” was always present throughout, but I personally didn’t feel it enough in some parts. Lastly, the last frame could’ve used a little bit of punch to it. I wanted to get knocked out of my seat…I wasn’t (see Bull’s Eye for more on that)
Overall though, "The Butterfly Effect" was a rough yet fulfilling watch that sported a gripping bleak feel, solid visual effects, more melodrama than you can shake a stick at, and more importantly, something weighty to say and the talent on-and-off screen to say it. Some might find it excessive in its portrayal of human ugliness (pedophilia, child violence, prison rape, animal cruelty and much more), others that know that this shit does go down first hand EVERY DAY will most likely relate to it...such as I did. Change one thing, change everything?
We get some bloody stabbings and some messy nose bleeds.
I’ve never seen Ashton Kutcher’s (Evan) TV show “Punk’d” or "That 70’s Show" so I haven’t been overexposed to the lad as many apparently have. I don’t hate the guy and therefore didn’t come in with any pre-conceived notions about him. As I was watching the film, not once did “Dude, Where’s My Car?” pop into my head and I guess that’s the best compliment I could give him. Ashton handled his first dramatic role adequately and it helped that he was well supported by his stellar co-stars. Amy Smart (Kayleigh) basically played a multitude of roles here and she nailed them all perfectly. I smell big things ahead for this actress. Melora Walters (Andrea) was on and off as the concerned mother. I warmed up to her as the film rolled on though. After “The Rules of Attraction” and now this movie, Eric Stoltz (George) is well on his way in being typecast as a sexual deviant. Why? Because he’s so good at it! NOTE: It should be said that all of the child actors did OUTSTANDING jobs in their respective roles. My favorites had to be: the charming Irene Gorovaia as the 13-year old Kayleigh and Jesse James as the way scary Tommy (13 years old).
T & A
We get one tit shot, another full frontal nude gal (yes, beaver too) and the ladies get the Kutch shirtless many o' times.
Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber put out a good looking film that often oozed of atmosphere and randomly burst into moments of high style (the time traveling effects rocked!) The razzle dazzle in the movie thankfully never drowned out its heart or storyline though. Good work boys!
The heartwrenching score hit the mark in upping the emotional power of some scenes, while the occasional pop/rock tunes served as harmless coating.
"The Butterfly Effect" was a powerful drama, an engaging thriller and a bitter sweet love story. It had the effect that it was supposed to have on me: it involved me, touched me, shocked me and made me reflect upon my own past and present. The first thing I told my friend when coming out of the theater was that the film was essentially a two hour statement as to why life sucks. With child abuse, violence involving kids, suicide, animal cruelty, mental deficiencies, injustices and more (yes...more) all displayed fairly graphically, "The Butterfly Effect" was a heavy hitter and sad reminder of the hard world we live in. In the mood for a healthy slice of existentialism bathed in the supernatural? Catch this Butterfly.
Star Ashton Kutcher also executive produced the film.
Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber also wrote "Final Destination 2".
This film cost $9 million dollars to make .
Word on the street was that the initial ending was too “shocking” to be in the theatrical cut of the film and that New Line demanded that another ending be shot. It's been said that the original ending will be included on the DVD release. I can’t wait to see it.