A young man struggles to access sublimated childhood memories. He finds a technique that allows him to travel back into the past, to occupy his childhood body and change history. However, he soon finds that every change he makes has unexpected consequences.
Ashton Kutcher, the shaggy haired young actor best known for "Dude, Where's My Car?" and dating Demi Moore, stars in a purported thriller that mines the memory loss theme that has been turning up with striking regularity in American movies, from "Memento" to "Paycheck." Mr. Kutcher's character, Evan Treborn, is an earnest college student whose life has been marked by a series of blackouts surrounding traumatic events. Majoring in psychology (he keeps a rat maze in his dorm room), he hopes to discover the reason behind the mysterious black holes in his mind. For reasons the film does not trouble to explain, Evan discovers that, if he reads a few lines from his childhood journals, he will be projected back in time to his traumatic moments, where he will be able to change his behavior in small ways that will make a big difference later on. The overly complicated plotting quickly becomes impossible to follow, while the filmmakers — the writer-directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber — wallow in some of the most repugnant imagery imaginable: a dog set aflame, a baby blown to bits. — Dave Kehr
2004-01-23 | Dave Kehr | Read the New York Times Review of The Butterfly Effect