VIDEO: The Butterfly Effect (2004)

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Phil’s special Time Travel Month continues with The Butterfly Effect! Ashton Kutcher has the hereditary power to travel back in time, which he uses to try to fix things, but instead he just screws up the present more and more. Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t understand how time travel works, or even the fundamental concept behind its own title.

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  • …Hm? What? Sorry, Amy Smart asked to be fucked in front of her dad’s video camera & I got distracted.

    • LindaMinda

      I remember when she was all over movie screens.

      What happened to her?

      • Thomas Stockel

         Looks like she moved to television.  She is a regular on Shameless, does t.v. movies…and is a voice actress on Robot Chick.  Huh.

        Anyway, good review, Phil!

      • MichaelANovelli

        Well, as I recall, an 11 year old of the same name was involved in a very famous kidnapping case right around this time, so people started associating the name with her, instead…

  • Muthsarah

    I liked that this movie had an ambitious premise and was willing to go to dark places that mainstream movies usually don’t go.  Ashton seemed like a sad concession the writers/producers had to make just to make it marketable; you’re right that he really did NOT fit the character, or the story in general.  For the record, though, this is one of the least insufferable performances of his that I’ve seen.  Whether he fit the character or not, I could never stand him on That 70s Show.  I’ve seen charming and likeable doofuses, stoners, burnouts, and pretty boys aplenty, but he was just irritating.  He doesn’t ruin this movie, though, as the filmmakers took no subtlety to the story, and ruined it before he had the chance.

    Some better filmmakers, Fincher or Cronenberg especially, could have made this same premise work while keeping the mainstream appeal, and slipped a serious, if a little old-fashioned, sci-fi story to an audience of whoever would actually turn out for an Ashton Kutcher movie, which if the box office is any indication, was a good amount of people at the time.  These guys clearly weren’t up to that, though I still think it’s a worthwhile failure.  It’s not complete garbage like Black Knight.

    Oh hey, transition.  Being the first of the inappropriate nitpickers in your last vid, I’d like to apologize for cluttering your comment section with my mini-rant.  I was in a weird mood, and I didn’t mean what I said as serious criticism, I just saw an opportunity to break out the red pen and get all correctiony.  I do like that you brought it up here yourself, Mr. Bunny.  Nothing like a good feedback loop. 🙂

    • You’re right, the script is really bad. Ashton bugged me every second he was on screen this go ’round. I could go on for like an hour about all the stupid choices the characters make. When you can time travel, there really shouldn’t be a limit to what you can do. I think it’s shockingly stupid that either A) The time travel loops are centered around trama (which isn’t always true) and if the trama is gone so is the portal (also not always true) or B) the blacks exist in the same time, even though the events are all different, which means he could go back in time all over the place…

      • Joseph Tedesco

        I think the last scene where he goes back via home movies, even though he was keeping journals after the events meeting Amy Smart’s character. Kind of goes back to how you put that the movie’s constantly changing it’s own rules. For some reason, it’s reminds me of the darker version of the Bedazzled remake. Whereas Brendan Fraiser tries really hard to have the perfect life with the girl he loves until realizing that they were better off.

      • John Wilson

        Well with the movie theme being around changing bad things in the past. It makes sense that most of the times he goes back is when something bad happens. Its not always trauma as seen when he went to grab the knife or the school hands scene(at first). This movie is based on chaos theory. Explain why some things affects more then other things. The blackouts are either two things 1. Actually blackouts at first before he went back in time or 2.Meaning the time stream is already mess up and it getting more out of control. The reasons he didn’t stay in the missing arms timeline are.1. It was a timeline that was bad in a space time way.   . He was slowly going insane each time he went back in time. As years of lives start piling up. You tend to do things really differently. 
         The reason why he didn’t just move when the mailbox blow up is,it would have added 18 more years to his brain. Plus with chaos theory, it unknown if that would make anything better. The whole movie about fate versus chance. Evan trying to fix a timeline that was broken from the start,hence the blackouts. He is living by chance each time he goes back in time. When he goes back the final time, he decides that living by fate is better for everyone. And maybe realize a few things about Eric. It wasn’t about them being together. It was about accepting fate and who people are. Also I kind of liked Aston in the movie. Maybe its because I had little experience about him before the movie. Plus he was the reason the movie got made. The script was made in 1994. He read the script and  got it made.
        I think everyone should give this a chance. Well if you can handle some of the themes.I really liked it:)

        • Those are excuses. They set rules, then they break rules. If the lesson is we need to believe it fate, that’s terrible. They BARELY make anything out of his time traveling. Sure he gets frantic in the mental asylum but they don’t say it’s because he has extra years in his head. This all doesn’t explain why he is outside the time line. It also doesn’t make sense that his first black outs were from him messing with the past, because older Ashton doesn’t remember. And, might I add, the only fucking reason he goes back in time is by random chance, so lady he takes back to his dorm MAKES HIM READ FROM IT. 

          I’m really sorry, but this movie blows. There are WAY better movies and shows that take this concept and aren’t intellectually insulting. Like, Misfits, Madoka Magica, Detention, Time Crimes, The Caller, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and others. 

          John you are free to like this movie, that’s fine, but everything you explained is not, at all, explained in the movie.

  • James Elfers


     You are so right that the biggest problem with this film is Aston Kutcher. I honestly think that the inconsistencies in the story would not be as noticeable or as jarring if there were a competent actor in the  lead role.  Putting him on a college campus scene without him either being a stoner or a stuck up jock is simply an impossibility. This is a movie I would love to be seen remade  with a better actor.
    Amy Smart is fantastic as is Eric Stoltz . Had an actor of their caliber been placed in the lead role this movie goes from an inconsistent waste of time to an inconsistent yet fascinating failure, a perfect cult movie if you will. 

  • Arturo Garza Flores

    Are you gonna review Looper, or is that too recent?

    • I don’t do that arbitrary date cut off crap. I just haven’t seen Looper. So no.

  • Jackie

    A time travel movie that has a pedophile character? Why does that sound familiar?