Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Personalized picks at your fingertips

Get the mobile app on iOS and Android

Parents' Guide to

The Butterfly Effect

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Dark sci-fi thriller has lots of violence, sex, language.

Movie R 2004 113 minutes
The Butterfly Effect Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 15 parent reviews

age 17+

...common sense is not so common anymore

To the adults on here that are mad at the reviewer for saying violence and sex and rape and child molestation are inappropriate entertainment for people should NOT be parents. Period. Just because things happen that are evil, doesn't mean we HAVE to NORMALIZE it to children for the sake of entertainment. You are BAD PARENTS. Stop lying to yourself. And perhaps quit breeding, k? Do us all a favor.... Anyways, Great plot, good movie, not really for children though.
age 14+

You Can’t Play God

I don’t know what the reviewer is going on about but this movie certainly is worthy of a good review. To give it 1 star shows bias, perhaps she just doesn’t like Ashton Kutcher. The movie has its depressing, violent moments but in the end it teaches you that you can’t play God and you should be thankful for the life you have, because having everything doesn’t necessarily mean you’re living a fulfilling life.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (15 ):
Kids say (21 ):

This movie is pretentious. 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.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: January 22, 2004
  • On DVD or streaming: July 6, 2004
  • Cast: Amy Smart , Eric Stoltz
  • Director: Eric Bress
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: New Line
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Run time: 113 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use
  • Last updated: November 23, 2023

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate