Just in case you were wondering, the title of this movie is a reference to a much-mused concept: that a single flap of a butterfly's wing in one country can spark a chain reaction of events that could ultimately culminate in a full-blown hurricane in another. In Eric Bress and J Mackye Gruber's sci-fried thriller, Ashton Kutcher is the insect, his psychic time-hopping antics rippling history-trashing hurricanes throughout his life.
Not so history-trashing, however, that his hairstyle ever changes. Whether his character, Evan Treborn, is portrayed by seven-year-old Logan Lerman, 13-year old John Patrick Amedori or Kutcher himself, he sports the exact same mop. Clearly, us helpless audience members are too thick to cope with the dizzying concept of more than one actor playing the same person at different stages in their life, unless we have such a clumsy visual aid to nanny us through... And this is the kind of clueless storytelling device that ensures The Butterfly Effect's deserved position in the corner, facing the wall with a dunce's cap on its head.
Coming on like the drooling bastard offspring of Donnie Darko and Dude, Where's My Car?, it's stoopid filmmaking at its most unintentionally hilarious. Just look at the clunky script, a festering shite-mine of howl-inducing direlogue. First we have Evan's psychiatrist intoning, ""Frankly, I'm surprised he still has use of his motor functions!""; then there's Amy Smart's white-trash crack-whore incarnation drawling, ""If I'd known you were coming, I'd have cleaned the stains off the sheets""; but it's Kutcher who steals it, shrieking at his insipid mother (Melora Walters), ""You started chain-smoking when I blew myself up!""
Of course, Kutcher's wooden, wide-eyed, sub-Keanu attempts at `serious' only encourage the splutters, and while criticising him for this is like slapping a baby for crapping in its nappy, it has to be done. He truly is a credibility vacuum, and even if writer/directors Bress and Gruber (Final Destination 2's scribes) had scrawled a quarter-decent script, he'd still have scuppered it. But they haven't, so the blame can be spread.
Still, perhaps we shouldn't be too harsh. After all, The Butterfly Effect does squat comfortably in so-bad-it's-entertaining territory. The Showgirls of psycho-thrillers? Definitely.
A Donnie Darko rip-off bewildered by its own metaphysical corkscrewing. And one of the most unwittingly funny movies of the year.