Bad Movies Done Right — The Butterfly Effect

Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Dude, where are my memories?

The Butterfly Effect blew my mind when I first saw it my freshman year of college. A series of escalating tragedies and shocking imagery centered on a novel portrayal of time travel, even Ashton Kutcher’s overblown acting couldn’t ruin the impact the film had on me.

The film starred Kutcher as Evan, a young man who discovers he has the ability to mentally time travel, transporting his brain into younger versions of his body. Using this newfound ability, Evan attempts to play God, changing the past in hopes of a better future. As time travel logic dictates, though, Evan’s attempts at fudging around with time travel lead to disastrous results.

A life-long fan of time travel movies, I was taken in by the film’s unflinching portrayal of reality gone amuck due to muddling around with the time-space continuum. The depiction of random acts of pet arson, pedophilia, child-on-child violence and sitcom star paraplegia in a mainstream film shocked me enough that I instantly respected the movie.

Watching the movie again five years later, tough, I’m disappointed to find that the film did not age well.

What was shocking back then, unfortunately now comes off as kind of silly. Viewing the film with my nitpickers firmly attached, I was distracted by huge plot holes and disparities in film logic.

I did learn a thing or two.

Time travel films are made and broken by their adherence to the rules they set forth in depicting time travel. I don’t care if you’re traveling back in time via glowing balls, sucking vortexes or Victorian steampunk machines, if you set a rule in your film regarding time travel you had better stick to it.

Time travel movies such as The Butterfly Effect can teach us a lot about life and keeping promises. Much like time travel movies can hit a brick wall if they don’t stick to their proverbial guns, an unsteady grasp on our own principals can lead us into a path as perilous as depicted in the film. Without strong morals and an ability to stand behind them, you too may find yourself minus a couple of arms and wheelchair bound because you thought it would be fun to blow up a mailbox with a stick of dynamite.

The other thing I learned from re-watching The Butterfly Effect was that while you should always stick to your principals, you don’t necessarily need to stick to your race.

When the filmmakers needed a Hispanic to play a gangbanging religious prisoner in The Butterfly Effect did they turn to any number of talented working Latino actors?

No, they hired Kevin Durand, a Caucasian Canadian, slapped some tanning solution on his skin and told him to don a borderline offensive accent.

And you know what? It worked.

Kevin Durand, a man of a thousand races.

Kevin Durand, a man of a thousand races.

Recipe for a vato: wife beater, beanie and mustache.

Recipe for a vato: wife beater, beanie and mustache.

When I first saw the film five years ago, I had no idea that “Carlos,” Ashton Kutcher’s prison cellmate wasn’t really a Hispanic. Durand did a mighty fine job of adopting another race.

So remember, stick to your guns but don’t be afraid to slap on some blackface if you’ve always really wanted to be a brotha.

Robert Saucedo hopes its not offensive to use the word “brotha.” Follow him on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.

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