Wednesday, January 28, 2004

"Dude, Where's My Oscar?"

Perhaps enough has been said already, if you've been surfing the web or watching TV lately, about "The Butterfly Effect". But it hasn't been said by me... yet.

I'll be the first to admit that I liked "Dude, Where's My Car?", despite the kind of reputation that might earn me. And I've always thought the character of Michael Kelso on "That '70s Show" was hilarious. Ashton Kutcher (as far as I'm concerned) definitely has a good grasp of the comedic. So, I was a little intrigued when, as I sat waiting for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" to begin, I saw the trailer for "The Butterfly Effect".

That was about a month ago. Last night, I went to see "The Butterfly Effect" and intrigue soon turned to fascination.

I don't want to spoil the movie, but here's the basic run-down that you get from the trailers:

Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) is a young man who's life has been plagued with blackouts and lost memories. The son of a man institutionalized for severe mental breakdown, Evan also appears to have the same affliction that eventually drove his father insane. From an early age, a psychologist familiar with his father's case has encouraged Evan to keep a journal in an effort to help him retain his memories and stave off the madness.

Now, seven years after his last blackout, Evan lives a happy and normal college life. But things are about to change... While looking back in one of his journals, he is suddenly thrust backward through time to a moment and a memory previously lost. With the mind of a 20 year old trapped in the body of a 13 year old, he witnesses a traumatic event that forever changed and shaped the lives of the people around him. Upon waking from this "experience", Evan soon learns that his journals provide him with a way to return to the events of the past and change them, to right wrongs, and to shape the past for a better future. Yet, with each attempt to fine-tune the key moments of his past, he awakens to a present that is unexpectedly altered and increasingly disastrous. His frantic attempts to create "the perfect world" begin to make him appear unstable... like his father.

One of the most amazing things about this film is how wonderfully unpredictable it is in its predictability. Even though I could guess how each journey into the past would go wrong, I was always off by just a little bit. It was pleasantly surprising to be wrong. There have been enough "Scream" and "Sixth Sense" type movies lately to make us all experts in the art of detecting sudden 180 degree turn-arounds and surprise endings, but "The Butterfly Effect" is a whole new ballgame.

But, by far, the best thing about this movie is Ashton Kutcher himself. As I said, I've been a fan of his for some time now, but even I was totally unprepared for how brilliantly he shone in "The Butterfly Effect". I'm sorry if that sounds like schoolgirl gushing, but I truly was impressed. He so accurately displayed the broad range and depth of emotions one would expect from a person enduring the trials of his character as to be 100% convincing. You can feel his pain, his fear, his frantic urgency to fix his mistakes. As used to him as we are from "Punk'd" and "That '70s Show", here Ashton is Evan Treborn.

If there are any lingering questions about him as a future heavyweight in Hollywood, this movie will surely put them to rest.

As the credits rolled last night, I turned to my girlfriend and said, "I haven't seen a movie that good in a long time", and I meant it. Although I rarely say this, I recommend that everyone go see this film. Don't wait for the DVD. Don't wait for cheap Tuesday. Don't wait for a matinee. Go tonight... go right now. You won't be disappointed!

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