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 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.
age 16+

Definitely not for kids.

The movie is great, and I enjoyed it very much, but it is very dark, dealing with child molestation, child abuse, child pornography, murder, prostitution, mental disorders, suicide, and other things that are not appropriate for children in my opinion. I'm not a parent yet, but I can't imagine letting anyone under 16 watch this movie, as it was troubling even for me. Don't get me wrong, the movie was great, but the subject matter is too grotesque and adult for kids to be subject to.

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

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