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:: The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect stars Ashton Kutcher in a performance aimed at marking his coming of age from teen hits such as “Just Married” and “Dude, Where’s My Car”.

Kutcher plays Even Treborne a university psychology student whose obsession with the study of memory is the result of his own troubled upbringing. Having suffered from blackouts as a child which were a reaction to extremely emotionally stressful situations, Even stumbles on to a key to unlock the mysteries of his past.

Even’s discovers a gateway that allows him to travel back in time and access all those memories that until now his conscience has suppressed. These memories hold the answers to his past that those who were there with him either cannot or will not give to him.

What Even doesn’t realize until it is too late to go back, is that he is not just reliving those memories, but he is changing them and thereby causing a butterfly effect in not only his own future life, but in all those lives around him; each and every time he travels back to the past.

The Butterfly Effect also stars Melora Walters as Even’s mother, Amy Smart as Even’s love interest Kayleigh, William Lee Scott as Kayleigh’s brother Tommy and Eiden Henson as Even’s childhood friend Lenny, as those whose futures are most dramatically effected by Even’s tampering with the past.

Kutcher, whose first major performance in a thriller is acceptable, is let down by both the script and the direction. The unfortunate use of various uninspiring cinematic tools leaves the film too disjointed to be engaging throughout. Consequently as a viewer, you are unable to seamlessly travel back and forth in time in a way that thematically more complex films like Memento and 21 Grams allow you to.

The performances of the other cast members are wooden at best, leaving Kutcher’s pivotal scenes with them either entirely emotionally void or bordering on melodramatic. But in the end my strongest criticism of the film would is that in order to compensate for this lack of emotional depth in the script and the performances, the film is unnecessarily graphically violent.

On a more positive note, at the very least, Kutcher’s performance isn’t all bad and I would have given him more points for trying if it wasn’t for the fact that he was also executive producer on the film. It obviously had something to do with an entirely gratuitous and non-thematically enhancing scene in which he parades around topless. Therefore my conclusion has to be that, until he comes of age in real life, he should stick to what he does best, which is deliver stoner one liners and show off his undeniably impressive six pack.

It appears that this is indeed Kutcher’s plan, he is currently in production in two more romantic comedies, ‘A Lot Like Love’ and ‘Played’ which also stars Rob Schneider.