Continuing in the rich tradition of bizarre but interesting films, The Butterfly Effect joins the ranks of such movies as Natural Born Killers and The Royal Tenenbaums. These are the type of movies that, even after walking out of the theatre, you still aren’t sure whether or not what you saw was average, disturbingly ridiculous, or genius wrapped inside a riddle, Okay, maybe not genius, but as close to the sun of genius as Hollywood dares to fly on gratuitous-sex-and-violence laced wings.
The film opens up by tracing the lives of four poor kids who have their lives ruined by the actions of the father next door, who has the kids acting out pornographic scenes in his basement. If you want to ensure that your audience will walk out disturbed, kiddie porn is always one way to get off on the right foot. The movie then shows how the father’s actions produce bad kids who then churn out horrible lives. An older Ashton, after realizing that he can go back through his blackouts and change the past, sets out to redeem his friends and win his childhood girlfriend.
At the heart of the film is Chaos Theory, which suggests that a butterfly flapping its wings in Tahiti, in theory, could make Ashton Kutcher a dramatic actor in Hollywood. Through a number of tearful scenes and a myriad of characters (from frat pretty boy to an insane asylum patient to jailhouse bad boy), Kutcher shows everyone that he’s not just Demi’s boy toy or a model slash actor slash pothead. Ashton is able to successfully show his range as a dramatic actor while making sure that he doesn’t stray too far from his Punk’d roots.
The Butterfly Effect is not for the faint of heart. One woman that attended the film with your movie review man (yeah dawg, you know how I do it) didn’t sleep for three days and completely stopped going back in time to change history. But it is a good movie – albeit disturbing – and offers viewers at least a superficial look at the idea that even the smallest actions have strong ripple effects over time.