As a child, Evan Treborn frequently had blackout spells. One minute everything would be normal, the next he’d wake up unaware of what happened that last few minutes. Many of these blackouts occurred around his childhood friends – Kayleigh, Lenny, and Tommy. Each of these children had serious emotional and psychological trauma for one reason or another. In order to help him remember what happened during these times, Evan’s mother suggested that he write everything down in a daily journal.
In college, Evan has left his troubled friends behind and is facing a promising future. He has gone 7 years without blackouts. However, when he goes back to read his childhood journals, something amazing happens. Evan is transported back in time to his mind and body during the blackouts. As an adult he is able to see what he missed as a child. Evan also discovers something else. While in the past, he can change events and rewrite the future.
When Evan attempts to set things right for his childhood friend Kayleigh, he initially believes that he is successful. His world is completely turned upside down, but she’s happy. Unfortunately, this unpredictably changes events for one of his other friends. As Evan returns to the past to try and set that right, he makes things even worse for his future self. Things quickly spiral go out of control and Evan must set things right before he goes insane. Or is he insane already?
The Butterfly Effect is rated R for violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use.
I must start out by saying that I think Aston Kutcher is a buffoon. He plays idiots on That 70’s Show, Punk’d, and every movie he has been in. He’s never struck me as a particularly great actor. For him to take a serious role seems to be a real stretch. However, Kutcher surprisingly pulls it off. He’s very restrained as Evan and his performances perfectly mirror those of his character’s younger incarnations. As Evan jumps from timeline to timeline and his mind is flooded with memories, you see his personality start to subtly change. He slowly begins to act like the person he has become. By the end he’s bordering on insanity. It’s a strong performance and it shows he’s suitable for bigger and better things.
The supporting cast is fantastic. The children who play the younger versions of the characters are wonderful. They perfectly match the adult actors. The young version of Tommy played by Jesse James is one of the most evil characters I’ve ever seen. His adult version, played by William Lee Scott, is also quite scary. He is so bad that you’d never in a million years expect to see him as a good guy by the end of the movie, but it works. Amy Smart is also impressive as she transforms to everything from a sorority girl to a hooker in this film.
I also thought I had this movie figured out, but there were a couple of fake outs before it concluded on the logical ending for the story. There were a lot of different ways it could have finished, but I think they did it in a satisfying what that I won’t spoil here. Overall, The Butterfly Effect is well worth checking out.
What Didn’t Work:
The other problem is the gratuitous nudity. There are several instances where breasts are bared for what seems to be for no other reason than to secure an R rating. If they would have dropped that and toned down the language a little bit, they could have had a good, mainstream, PG-13 thriller. Instead they have a movie for a limited audience of people only over 17 (theoretically). It doesn’t make business sense and this is show business.
The Bottom Line: