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THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

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In this directorial debut from screenwriters Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber (whose previous contribution to teen cinema was the oddly titled Final Destination 2), Evan (Ashton Kutchner) discovers he can go back in time, simply by reading his childhood journals. (No money in the budget for even a magic ring? A cynic would smirk he's simply slipping through the plot holes.) The problem, it seems, with going back to "fix" things like abuse or ill-timed explosions is that any small revisionist act radically alters the new present. Well, somewhat: Every time Evan returns to his present, he's conveniently still at the same college, though the assorted fates of his buddies run the gamut from silly to stale. History-bending for one's own purposes is an entertaining premise that gets diluted quickly here through repetition, and the consequences of Evan's fixes grow increasingly ham-fisted: What should be a gut-punch becomes a gut-buster. As lightweight as the film is, had the filmmakers chosen to stop the movie at one point near the end, Butterfly would have been a mildly provocative thriller with purposefully unresolved questions about repressed memories and the mind's uneasy capacity to re-write its own history as necessary. Instead, they plow ahead to a logical wrap-up that -- in light of all the time-bending that's gone before -- ultimately makes the least amount of sense. Two cameras

 

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