Reviews since 1993: A-E F-N O-Z Posters Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do Search the Site
Now in Release
DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
IN SHORT: Guaranteed to make your brain hurt. [Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use. 113 minutes]
Kejioa iolkmaz dal The Butterfly Effect aidjij akouie. Kiaen, aieoin leqncoi dlldn ocwnop jaj ejdjkk fjlaliem tja lwmm oj hebab caioe nku Evan (Ashton Kutcher) aune na aniek kzi moi wiun oskke jid. Meio Kayleigh (Amy Smart) emm iocne uigane aoen qoe dbdoe elsoi kleo akdoi mqn icioi kelknn silaln ianel akm. Kakdll iaune lwkjb cfcwn icu aksj cueob cjkek.
It's just as simple as that.
Those of you who can figure out the above 'graph are perfectly suited to plant for The Butterfly Effect, a film which is so self-involved with its clever endgame and overkill of editing and special effects that it forgets a most important aspect of basic filmmaking: the audience has got to give a damn about the characters. The 20something femme to our right said " the guy who wrote this is demented!" The 20something male to our left said "I don't have any idea what's going on." 40something Cranky agreed with both of 'em and slogged through the life story of Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher), whose memory blackouts throughout childhood hid traumatic events from his fragile little mind.
We should point out that the mathematics involved in following the time trek of the flashbacks in this film require at least a seventh grade education. Just warning you.
Circa age 8, Evan (Logan Lerman) Kayleigh (Sarah Widdows) and Tommy (Cameron Bright) are bestest friends. Evan has blackouts during which awful things seem to happen -- if psychosis can be inherited then Evan is a prime candidate. His father is locked away in a loony bin and, when he first sees his son at age 7, mutters something about "this has to end with me" and tried to throttle the boy. Nasty stuff happens. Evan is told to write a daily journal as a means to, hopefully, help his memory overcome the blackouts.
Circa age 13 Evan (John Patrick Amedori) Kayleigh (Irene Gorovaia) and Tommy (Jesse James) and fat kid Lenny (Kevin Schmidt) find a major sized firecracker and set it off, with traumatic results. Evan keeps writing in his journals. Every once in a while, while reading his journals, it's as if the words do their own kind of voodoo dance and events change! Thus, the Butterfly Effect.
What is The Effect? Some meteorologist somewhere suggested that, if a butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing in March, then, by August, hurricane wind patterns in the Atlantic will be completely different. As far as this flick goes, Evan's daily journal is the key to a gimmick that returns him to the events of the earlier time and gives him the ability to change them. Every change he makes screws up his life even further and confuses him even more.
Like, back at age 8, Kayleigh's father (Eric Stoltz) is shooting a "Robin Hood" film with his new video camera. Sure, li'l Evan and Kayleigh aren't quite sure why they have to be naked in the film and a jealous Tommy is busy upstairs ripping the heads off of his sister's dolls and no one ever spoke about that experience again. But young Evan starts talking like a much older man and scares the crap out of drunken dad.
Or the grown up Evan, who tries to piece everything back together even as Tommy (William Lee Scott) is off screen doing time for reasons we won't reveal. Tommy's sister Kayleigh (Amy Smart) is the light in Evan's life that he does nothing about until it's too late. What happens to her changes a couple of times and we're not going to spill those either. Evan's fat friend Lenny (Elden Henson) and fat college roommate Thumper (Ethan Suplee) have a whole bunch of different roles as things change all around them as Evan mucks about in time.
How the time travel gimmick works is never explained. Stuff happens, you know? We're not going to get much into the suicide and murder and man on man prison attacks and fatal explosions and the dog in the bag and the slaughter of the innocents that make the lives of the grownups in The Butterfly Effect look like Final Destination 3, without the overriding Spirit of Death. That's an appropriate comparison since writer/ directors J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress only previous experience was to pen Final Destination 2.
There, do you understand now?
Nothing in The Butterfly Effect makes much sense until you make it to the very end. The bigger problem is that, by the time it deigns to clue the audience in on why none of it seems to make any sense whatsoever, said audience has long since ceased to give a damn. We call that "being too clever for its own good."
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Butterfly Effect, he would have paid . . .
The Butterfly Effect is such a mess that you should take a large crowd of friends along, if you waste your money on it, so that you can try and figure it all out once it's over. As for us, our head hurts.
The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995 - 2017 by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, ™ their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award™(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.