Yes folks, it's Ashton Kutcher, all grown up -- with a beard to prove it. The Butterfly Effect gets its title from the chaos theory premise wherein a butterfly flapping its wings in New York might cause a tsunami in Japan. It could be considered Kutcher's first serious role and is the first time he headlines a film.
In this simplistic take on the ever-popular science-fiction topic of time travel, Evan Treborn (Kutcher) discovers that he can revisit his childhood memories whenever he reads from one of his journal passages. Troubled by blackouts in his disturbed youth, Evan, now in college, discovers that he has the ability to change his past and decides to use it to better the fate of his childhood sweetheart Kayleigh Miller (Amy Smart). Unfortunately, each time he tries altering the course of events, he finds himself in a less agreeable present. At one point, after tinkering with a traumatic childhood incident involving a mailbox and a firecracker, Evan wakes up with stumps for arms and discovers his best friend in bed with his lifelong love. In another scenario, he ends up in prison for killing Kayleigh's brother (William Lee Scott), and we learn that Kutcher's pretty looks aren't too helpful in the Big House.
The Butterfly Effect is initially suspenseful, but it becomes more repetitive and predictable as the story progresses. While the idea of the film seems interesting, the grotesque imagery may be difficult for some viewers. Writer-directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber decide to ignore the logistics of why and how Evan has come to possess his time-traveling ability. Moreover, Bress and Gruber neglect to develop the storyline about Evan's father -- who apparently had suffered from a similar affliction. And as hard as Ashton Kutcher tries, he can't quite conceal the smirk that those teenyboppers just swoon over.