The Butterfly Effect

And the Oscar winner as Best Actor of 2004 is Ashton Kutcher for The Butterfly Effect. That'll be the day, unless Kutcher punks the actor who does win by tying him up backstage and accepting the prize in his stead. Look, there's nothing wrong with a natural comic like Kutcher taking a role that goes deeper. Bill Murray does it, but Kutcher can't pull it off, not on the basis of this hackneyed, ham-handed thriller that puts the star of That '70s Show in the taxing role of Evan Treborn, a guy who has blacked out his childhood. For good reason, because Evan's wonder years involved maiming, murder and kiddie porn.

Now Evan has found a power in himself. By reading from his childhood journals (a small thing as delicate as a butterfly), Evan can go back in time and rewrite history. Maybe Kayleigh (Amy Smart), the girl he's loved since puberty, will love him back. Maybe his pals Lenny (Elden Henson) and Tommy (William Lee Scott) won't turn out so bad. Maybe Kayleigh's creepy dad (Eric Stoltz) won't ask him to take off his underwear. irectors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, who co-wrote the idiotic Final Destination 2, love showing Kutcher reading in close-up. Then they have the camera shake and Kutcher go all bug-eyed until he's back in the past. The childhood story works marginally better than the present-day stuff, which is bad news for Kutcher, since a younger actor plays him then. But nothing can save this repetitive bore. Dude, where's your memory?

From The Archives Issue 271: August 10, 1978