Butterfly Effect [2004]

Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Despite box-office dominance during its opening weekend, The Butterfly Effect is better suited to guilty-pleasure viewing at home. When writer-directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber (who penned Final Destination 2) aren't breaking their own haphazard rules of logic, they're filling this sordid thriller with enough unpleasantness to make eternal damnation seem like an attractive alternative. In a role-reversal from his That '70s Show persona, Ashton Kutcher plays a college-age psychology student who discovers, by re-reading his childhood journals, that he can revisit his past and alter traumatic events, hoping to improve their previously unfortunate outcomes. Instead, this foolhardy experiment in chaos theory (the titular "butterfly effect," popularized by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park) results in a variety of nightmarish permutations, each having dire consequences for him and/or his friends. This intriguing premise is explored with a few interesting twists and turns, but with subplots involving child pornography, animal cruelty, and profanely violent children, it's a stretch to call it entertainment. --Jeff Shannon

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