January 27, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 64  

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The Butterfly Effect: crackwhores, cellblock bitches

The Butterfly Effect
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart and Ethan Suplee
Directed by: Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber

By Jesse Steiche
Gazette Writer

Psych major. Frat boy. Amputee. Straight jacket wingnut. Cellblock bitch. Any one of these identities is cinematic gold in and of itself.

Now imagine taking this list and wrapping it into a single role designed to facilitate the breakout performance of a mesh-backed fool. Intrigued? If so, check out Hollywood’s latest psychological thriller, The Butterfly Effect.

Right away, an adrenaline-pumping chase — involving the usual shadow-stained office space, bouncing flashlights and the panicked writing of a letter alluding to the story’s eventual twists and turns — morphs into a flashback of Evan Treborn’s (Kutcher) childhood.

Treborn must deal with his mysterious psychological problems, such as an institutionalized father and a psychopath for a best friend. The dysfunctional nature of his youth provides the necessary amount of changeable instances for the plot to progress. “Change one thing. Change everything,” as the tag line reads.

That is just what Evan does after he discovers his supernatural ability to “heal the wounds” of his past. Using childhood journal entries, he transports himself back to the written entry and changes history forever, with very unexpected and diverse consequences.

Although the concept for the movie is interesting, it’s definitely not original. Surprisingly, the movie seems to blend together elements of Run Lola Run with Back to the Future. In fact, it even goes as far as borrowing the former’s use of still life photographs to mark the sequence of events.

Even though its cinematic technique may not be original, it acts as a fairly effective way to tie together the varying plotlines. However, the acceleration of these images sometimes has a dizzying effect and may leave questions in regards to the story’s plausibility.

Trying to shed his Dude Where’s My Car image, Kutcher has taken on a role with lots of elbow room to establish himself as a serious character actor. Unfortunately, he seems incapable of playing a role which doesn’t involve getting stoned or “punking” his closest friends in a loud, raucous manner. In trying to convey a serious performance, he relies too heavily on eye movements and often mumbles through his lines — perhaps the effects of too much Ritalin.

Playing Kayleigh Miller, the love interest and driving force behind Evan’s quest to set things right, Smart demonstrates her versatility as an actress. Her role extends all the way from sorority girl to crack whore — well, that isn’t too much of a stretch. Regardless, she does it in style, proving well worth the various forms of beatings Evan receives in the name of love.

And who doesn’t love a kid who can deliver a line like, “Drop it or I’ll slit your mother’s throat in her sleep,” with such conviction that it sends shivers up and down your spin?
This feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach comes from the excellent performance of silver screen newcomer Cameron Bright, who tackles the role of 13-year-old psychopath Tommy Miller. The creepiness Bright conveys in his demonic gaze and speech patterns will definitely make you squirm in your seat.

This movie isn’t for the critical film students out there. But if you’re somebody who just wants to be entertained, do it up!



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