The Butterfly Effect Movie Poster Image

The Butterfly Effect



Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. So very bad.
  • Review Date: July 5, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Graphic violence, characters severely wounded and killed, suicide, animal torture, child molestation Characters are severely wounded and killed, including children. A character commits suicide and an animal is tortured and killed. Children are also moles


Nudity, explicit and graphic sexual references and situations including child molestation, prison rape


Very strong language including hate speech

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A lot of smoking, drinking, drug use

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has extreme graphic violence. Characters are severely wounded and killed, including children. A character commits suicide and an animal is tortured and killed. Children are also molested (off-camera) and there are references to prison rape. The movie includes nudity and very explicit sexual references and situations, including bondage gear, prostitution, and references to multiple orgasms. Characters smoke (including children), drink, and use drugs (bong shown, character is an addict, cocaine mentioned). Characters use very strong language, including hate speech.

What's the story?

In THE BUTTERFLY AFFECT, Evan is a tortured soul given to blackouts as a child. Now in college, as his memories begin to return, Evan regrets not having been able to save Kayleigh (Amy Smart), the girl he loved, from her abusive father. He realizes that can go back in time and change the direction of events, but each time he does he makes things worse. Evan goes back to the moment in which he agreed to take his clothes off for a child porn video made by Kayleigh's father (Eric Stoltz). Instead of saying no or running away or calling the police, 7-year-old Evan's second chance decision is to explain to Kayleigh's father in the words of his adult persona that her father should not destroy her life. Somehow, this instantly persuades him to stop molesting her. Then college-age Evan, back in the present but of course remembering the original reality, is transformed from cool guy to frat boy, with Kayleigh transformed from suicidal waitress to the happy sorority girl. But when 7-year-old Evan showed Kayleigh's father the error of his ways, he forgot about Kayleigh's brother, who now, in scenario #2, as the recipient of all of the abuse in the family, is over-protective of his sister. Disaster ensues and Evan has to find a way to go back again to try to make things work out better.

Is it any good?


This movie is not just pretentious twaddle; it is inept and pretentious twaddle, not even worth a "so bad it's good" video rental. The title comes from the idea, here attributed to "chaos theory," that the flap of a butterfly's wing can produce a typhoon half a world away. It's an irresistibly intriguing notion -- all of us have thought about what would happen if we could go back in time and make a different choice. But this movie's plot lacks imagination, insight, and even believability.

Evan's time travels include an assortment of every possible form of hideous crime and abuse, including animal torture, child molestation, the death of an infant, prison rape, and drug addiction, all unforgivably thrown in for shock value and none with any shred of dramatic legitimacy. And wherever he is, psychology teacher's pet, half-hearted participant in fraternity hazing, confined to prison, or confined to a wheelchair, Kutcher's acting is not up to the challenge of making even a nosebleed believable.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about moments when they could have made a different choice and how that would have affected the lives of others around them.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 22, 2004
DVD release date:July 6, 2004
Cast:Amy Smart, Eric Stoltz
Director:Eric Bress
Studio:New Line
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use

This review of The Butterfly Effect was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written byunderonehalo April 9, 2008

see it if your 12 or older, you'll thank me, i promise

Parent Written by@@@ December 17, 2011

Great thriller

Brutal, graphic, yet engrossing, this film proves just how wrong Common Sense Media's 1 out of 5 rating is.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byJayGatsby November 3, 2011

You can't play God

I find it utterly amazing that the author of this review completely dispell's the movie's positive messages and only focuses on the offensive content. This movie made a compelling argument about the dangers and futility of playing God and it was a beautiful thing to see Evan's sacrifice at the end of the movie. Sure there's offensive content, but there's also positive content that should not be left out. Besides all that stuff, the movie is superbly well-made, carried by a genius concept, fast-paced storytelling, powerful emotions, a great score, good performances (especially from Amy Smart), and the bleak coloring. It all made for a fantastic movie and thoroughly enjoyable and fulfilling watch. I recommend this film for mature people who can the handle the content and appreciate the briliance of the premise.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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