Can he act or can’t he?Imagine my surprise when Ashton Kutcher reaches beyond the scope of Dude, Where’s My Car? and establishes an entirely believable and likable character without a single dumb, pretty boy expression.
It is possible, however, that the lackluster performances of the entire supporting cast make Kutcher’s talents Brad Pitt-like in comparison, but I stand by my assessment of actual talent in a serious film.
Kutcher plays Evan, a college student who suddenly discovers a way to re-live the blackouts that tormented his childhood. By re-living the past, he has the power to alter his actions, and by doing so, simultaneously affect the present, and not always for the better.
Butterfly Effect has the good fortune to bear an excellent script and fresh plot, as well as a leading actor who aptly carries both. Conversely, it has the misfortune, either by poorly developed characters or under-talented actors, of a hopelessly weak and ineffective supporting cast. Evan’s primary motivation for altering his past is to improve the lives of his childhood friends, but I could not have cared less. As the present day became better for his friends and worse for Evan, I hoped only for an ending which guaranteed Evan’s happiness, even if that meant leaving the supporting actors to rot in crack houses, prisons, or mental institutions.
Although the film offers no specifically outlined reason for the black-outs or for Evan’s “power” itself, the plot does not feel lacking nor does it lose anything on account of this missing explanation. The hole caused by this omission is regrettable, but hardly detrimental to the film.
The subject of time travel has been undertaken time and again, in various ways and achieving various results. The ultimate structure of the film is obvious to anyone having seen similar films before, but utilizes several smaller twists to transform an otherwise predictable plot into a new spin on an old tale. Establishing a believable and entertaining method of telling the same, endlessly rewritten story is the achievement that makes Butterfly Effect worth the trip to the movie theater. B+