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The Butterfly Effect

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Ashton Kutcher, The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect: Shane Harvey

The Butterfly Effect

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
R
runtime:
113 minutes
Wide Release Date:
01/23/04
performer:
Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Cameron Bright, Elden Henson, Eric Stoltz, Melora Walters
director:
Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
distributor:
New Line Cinema
author:
Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
genre:
Sci-fi and Fantasy, Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it a C-

In The Butterfly Effect, Ashton Kutcher wakes up in a dorm room and discovers that he’s got a pair of stumps where his forearms used to be. ”What the f—!” he exclaims, and if there’s a piece of dialogue this year campier than that, I’d love to hear it. Kutcher doesn’t sound upset, exactly; he sounds punk’d, as if he’d just found himself sleeping next to Bruce Willis or something.

”The Butterfly Effect” is a chain-reaction thriller in which Kutcher keeps diving back into his past and altering some horrendous event (child sexual abuse, a dog set on fire, you get the picture), then shooting into the different future that results from it. He ends up, for a scene or two, as a frat boy, a disabled sad sack, and a prisoner surrounded by thick-chested Aryan rapists. (Talk about punk’d.) Yet nothing in the movie has much consequence, since Kutcher keeps skipping to a new reality before we can figure out what he’s doing in the old one. It’s like he’s trapped in a ”Twilight Zone” theme restaurant.

There’s a good head trip nestled somewhere within the messy, sodden execution of ”The Butterfly Effect”; I kept wondering what a moody grunge technician like David Fincher would have done with it. But Kutcher is the wrong actor to anchor a psychological freak-out. Wearing a scruffy beard and an expression of lost-dog woe, he overacts to signify that he wants to be taken seriously. He may yet turn out to be a movie star, but not if he comes on like Eric Roberts’ kid brother scrambling to measure up.