The Butterfly Effect

By Adam Lippe

18844046Sometimes director’s cut DVDs are a waste of time and a simple marketing scheme. I watched the director’s cut of The Butterfly Effect and then watched the conclusion of the theatrical cut, and am mystified how anyone can even consider the latter’s ending to be valid. The director’s cut’s conclusion seems thematically correct, as it ties everything together and shows how useless trying to change the past is, but also, it’s the only that one that makes any sense, especially as compared to the cop-out wishy-washiness of the theatrical version. But this is all masturbation because I didn’t really enjoy the movie overall for a variety of other reasons.

While watching The Butterfly Effect, one could easily start comparing Ashton to Marty McFly. It even feels like you’re watching Back to the Future II: II. The characters didn’t seem to know it though, and I kept hoping Ethan Suplee would have a self-aware Kevin Smith moment and say “McFly!!!!” or something like that. Except this wasn’t supposed to be charming or funny or light, even if it maintained the same video game feel. Because Ashton can change his past and future at will, there is little suspense or feeling to any of the scenes where he is “stuck,” especially in the prison sequences (though I was certainly hoping for a nice gang rape). It also seems a bit limited to only consider how the changes effect just a few lives, but everyone else seems to be the same. But of course, that’s not really the point, the changes of destiny are more of a gimmick than a well thought out concept.

butterflyeffectIn terms of the child acting, I was giggling at the scenes where Ashton would speak through the younger version of him, the dialogue was so strained that it appeared as if the actor had learned his lines phonetically, which he probably had. And when he first kisses Kaylee, it is a profoundly awkward moment (and not for the right reasons) with almost no setup, she’s queasy, and then “Do you know how beautiful you are?”

The beginning and the conclusion featured the biggest laughs of the film, with Ashton and his long hair, running around like a monkey. If I can give the movie credit for anything, it’s that the pace of the film is amazing, it never stops and moves at quick enough of a clip where you might not notice the pointlessness of the entire endeavor and how the script was probably written with note cards on a bulletin board rather than with any genuine feel for the characters.

However, everyone should watch the deleted scene where the fat kid comes home and his mom yells at Ashton and Kaylee. If you listen carefully, though they don’t mention it on the commentary, they have clearly dubbed in a number of farts every few seconds. I counted 6 within a 25 second scene.

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Roadracers

By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]


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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.