Click on CAPCon Alert image for explanation
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word
With Reader Feedback
Give your visitors access to more than 800 CAP movie analyses while your page stays open. Put the link above on your web page. FREE! Test it! Click it!
Make your tax-deductible donations to the CAP Ministry through
Click here to see
UPDATED December 31, 2003
|US MAIL in US Dollars to
PO Box 177
Granbury, TX 76048-0177
Preferred. NO Service Charges.
|If either of the above two links have not worked properly for you, please try again. THANK YOU!!!|
To subscribe to or unsubscribe from our FREE text-only versions of our Entertainment Media Analysis Reports as they are calculated, visit our Mailman. If you experience difficulty with Mailman, send us your request. Your email address will NOT be given or sold to other parties.
|ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, if you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.|
(2004), R -- ... adolescents speak vulgar language 36 times ...
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Bender-Spink Inc., Blackout Entertainment, FilmEngine, Katalyst Films
Distribution (US): New Line Cinema
Director(s): Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
Producer(s): Chris Bender, Cale Boyter, Richard Brener, A.J. Dix, Toby Emmerich, Jason Goldberg, David Krintzman, Ashton Kutcher, Anthony Rhulen, Lisa Richardson, William Shively, J.C. Spink
Written by: J. Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress
Cinematography/Camera: Matthew F. Leonetti
Music: Puddle of Mudd, Michael Suby
Film Editing: Peter Amundson
Casting: Carmen Cuba
Production Design: Douglas Higgins
Art Direction: Shannon Grover, Jeremy Stanbridge
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6
This is a long Summary/Commentary. I apologize for for the length but the filmmakers morally abused kids in this film and I am going to say my piece. After another form of child moral abuse.
When standing in line for admission to The Butterfly Effect, I was graced by a never before seen sight for the Driftwood Theater - bonafide punks with the sides of the head shaved, spiked hair, the black spiked and studded dog collar, spiked and studded black wrist bands, etc. Complete with a bunch of steel poking through them. They tried to get in to see this movie but the girl did not have an ID with her. She was obviously out of her element, looking as though she donned "punk" temporarily, pretending to be punk for the evening to easily get back to real life tomorrow morning. At least I was able to gain further confirmation of my previous observations of "punk." One observation in particular, in addition to noting again the signature attitude of "It ain't good enough, no matter what 'it' is", was that they certainly had a way with word. No, not a way with "words", just 'word.' At least these three favored the one word. While looking for an opportunity to open a dialogue with them, I was hoping they would initiate conversation -- I would have even welcomed a confrontation -- so I could maybe slide into a little witnessing or at least tell them of Jesus' love for us as we are (we don't have to be "clean" to invite Jesus into our hearts). But apparently the folks found reason to not open any dialogue with me and quickly started walking away after the window clerk said "No ID, no ticket." They left too quickly for me to open any conversation with them without being obvious. I guess Jesus was not ready for them to have such an experience ... through me anyway ... not yet. Besides, I think I had an hundred pounds over the biggest of them, which is likely related to another attribute of "punk" I have observed -- a propensity to prefer interacting only with easily intimidated people.
I also wondered why punks would be interested in The Butterfly Effect. Maybe it was Thumper (Ethan Suplee) in the show who was punk. Actually he seemed to be a mix of punk and goth, maybe more goth than punk if the two are separable. And in the intro was a comment of the chaos theory about a single butterfly wing being able cause a typhoon somewhere. The connection I guess is the idea of chaos as it relates to anarchy, an apparent aim of the punk lifestyle of no rules and no laws.
The Butterfly Effect is a time travel thriller. Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher, Logan Lerman at 7 and John Patrick Amedori at 13) is troubled with clouded and lost memories of his traumatic childhood. Evan's childhood was so traumatic that his mind blacked out as a coping mechanism to protect himself from the pain caused by his memories. But Evan was bound and determined to discover what are in his childhood memories that are buried. A psychiatrist advised Evan to start a ledger of things he was doing up to the periods of blacking out to help him rebuild his memories.
Flashbacks show us of seven year old Evan drawing pictures in school of graphically violent horror, mutilation and killing. The movie seemed to suggest the drawings were manifestations of his wishes to do these things to someone, maybe to the pedophile George Miller (Eric Stoltz), the father of one of Evan's friends who had Evan and his friends before his camera at one time or another. Repeatedly. [Luke 17:2] Another flashback was of Evan standing before his mother with a butcher knife. Still another was of Evan's mental-patient father trying to choke Evan to death.
At 13, Evan joined his childhood sweetheart, Kayleigh (Amy Smart, Sarah Widdows at 7 and Irene Gorovaia at 13); Kayleigh's brother, Tommy (William Lee Scott, Cameron Bright at 8 and Jesse James at 13), and his friend, Lenny (Elden Henson, Kevin Schmidt at 13) in malicious mischief that ended up being an unintended homicide of Mrs. Halpern and her baby, Katie. As a sadistic prank, the cigarette-smoking quartet, led by Tommy, placed a Blockbuster explosive in Mrs. Halpern's mailbox with a lit cigarette as an extended fuse. While the gang waited for the Blockbuster to explode, Mrs. Halpern came home with Katie in her arms. At first Mrs. Halpern started to walk up the sidewalk to the front door. But Mrs. Halpern changed her mind and went to the mailbox. If there was any mail in the mailbox, it ended up in pieces and ashes just like mother and daughter.
In another episode Tommy dog napped Evan's dog, tied it up in a canvas bag and doused it with lighter fluid to incinerate the dog. Evan, Kayleigh and Lenny discovered what Tommy was doing before he could ignite the bag. In a fit of rage, Tommy took a burning 4 x 4 board and tried to hit Evan in the head with it but instead hit his sister Kayleigh in the head. Graphically.
As an adult, Evan's obsession with his lost memories led him to major in psychology. As part of the program, Evan decided to revisit his ledgers in attempts to fill the blacked-out memories and maybe learn what caused the black-outs. Instead, Evan learned that reading the ledger transported his consciousness back to his childhood to the time about which Evan was reading. This gave Evan the idea to return to the traumatic events of his life to change the past to repair its effect on the future ... err ... the present.
Evan did that. Several times. Once to stop the pedophile from victimizing the children. Once to stop the Blockbuster from killing Mrs. Halpern and Katie. Once to stop Tommy from nearly killing Kayleigh with the 4x4 board. But each time Evan tried to change the past to make the present better, things got worse. Each new timeline Evan started by fixing horrors of the past created a new string of terrors.
This film is quite graphic in pedophilia and is thorough and detailed in portraying the possible damages to the victims, including suicide some 20-plus years later. There is little doubt what the angels of those kids, if the kids were real and the events were real, would say to God [Matt. 18:10] Maybe the angels for the kids in the audience will have some not-so-pleasant things to say to God.
Controls seem to be much more lax today about letting kids watch these kinds of shows and even taking them to keep up with the Jones'. At least, with what the Jones kids say they get to do. It even seems to be a high-ranking societal badge for an adolescent to be able to say "I get to watch R-rated movies." The American College of Physicians
After years of searching the Bible, I have been unable to find where it tells of an age at which sin becomes no longer sinful. God tells us of a time when a child becomes an adult [1 Cor. 13:11] but no where can I find in the Bible that says any behavior which is sinful for a child is not sinful for an adult. And vice versa, including foul language.
There seems also to be, for the lack of a better expression, a campaign to give our kids more and more entertainment autonomy. I cannot explain it but what else would cause a filmmaker to have adolescents speak vulgar language 36 times, demonstrate a stabbing murder and a plethora of other sins in 109 minutes? What else would cause the parents of those kids to to let them do so? Seventeen of the 56 uses of the most foul of the foul words were spoken by adolescents in this film. Nineteen of the 46 uses of the other words of the three/four letter word vocabulary were spoken by adolescents. [Col. 3:8] And, no, hearing such language every day in school does not excuse speaking it. The first time of a sin does not excuse the second. Nor does the second excuse the third. Or the thousandth. Nor does the thousandth excuse the first. Nor does repeating or quoting someone else excuse speaking it. Nor does a director telling a child to speak it excuse speaking it nor does a parent allowing it excuse speaking it. Jesus adores children so much that he warns us in Luke 17:2 that it would be better for the one who teaches and/or causes a little one (which includes at-home teens) to sin if a millstone were tied about his/her neck then cast into the sea. If that is frightening, maybe it should be.
Great Scott! Of the 119 uses of vulgar and offensive language [Prov. 4:24 ] in 109 minutes, 36 of the uses were by children! And every use a sin! Guess whom the sin is on? The children? Well, the actors and actresses might be over the age of accountability but definitely over the age of accountability are the filmmaker, writers, promoters, parents of the actors/actresses, etc. Luke 17:2 is inescapable.
Though there were 17 uses of God's name in vain, four with the four letter expletive and 13 without, at least (and thankfully) none were noted as being spoken by an adolescent in this film.
God has angels who report back to Him watching over each child. God warns of a millstone about the neck of s/he who teaches/causes the little ones to sin. What more do we need to know this behavior, this exploitation of children in the name of entertainment is wrong? I hope you think about these truths before you feed The Butterfly Effect to your children. And since that which is sinful for children is also sinful for adults, I hope you think about that, too.
This is a true "R" film, folks. Indeed, if I had amassed a comparative database of analyses of NC-17 films, which I haven't and won't, I suspect this film would earn an NC-17 score. Pedophile grooming of children and demonstrations of a pedophile in action. A graphic and brutal beating by a child and other issues of extreme sadistic brutality by a young teen. Smoking illegal drugs. Smoking cigarettes by adolescents. Full female nudity. Covered intercourse. Threats of and motions of homosexual rape. More.
There is much inappropriate programming in this film. Much. There are few films in the more than 800 we have analyzed which earned scores as low as The Butterfly Effect. But I will make no more recommendations pro or con about films. My job is to tell you about the content of films using the teachings and expectations of Jesus as our investigation standards so you can be in a better position to make a moral decision on your own about films while sharing with you God's Word as it relates to the content of films. My job is not to tell you whether a film is or is not fit for your kids or even yourself. I do not have and don't want that authority. That is your decision ... and His decision ... to make. But I do ask that you seriously inspect the listing in the Finding/Scoring section of this analysis report before even considering whether to see this film or not. Whether you decide to see this film and whether you decide to take your kids with you or let them go by themselves (as was the case for at least three adolescents when I saw the film) is, of course, your decision to make. But I beg you to first consider what I have shared with you herein. I have sounded the trumpet so the blood will not be on my head if you decide to disregard the warning. [Ezek. 33:4]
And if you are curious as to why I analyze R-rated films visit our FAQs, item number 5.
I am still wondering why punks would show up for this film and none others in the several years I have been viewing films at Driftwood Theater. Is there an association of the punk lifestyle with this caliber of entertainment?
The day after posting this analysis report, one of our readers sent the following to me in email. I felt it might be nice to share it with you. It is verbatim from his email.
Hello. I have read your website almost four years now, and I would like to respond to your questions about punks, as pondered in The Butterfly Effect review. The reason you may have not seen too many at that theatre until now may be two-fold.
First, most of the punks I know (I am not one, but have some friends who are), generally prefer to wait on movies to hit video, as ticket prices nowadays are so expensive (the studios and theatres actually see little percentage of each ticket because the prices are so much to rent the reels/promotional materials. Most theatres make 90% of their money through concessions, hence the high food costs). Most people who are in that "scene" as they call it, generally work only enough to get by, so anything that could be considered "frivolous expenses" are generally put off. You would probably find a lot more of them down at the "dollar" theatre, where second-run movies play (movies that are generally three months old).
Secondly, the "punk" look is making a small comeback from what it was in the late 1970's-early 1980's. It had faded and been replaced during the "grunge" era of the early-mid 1990's, but is quickly returning. So you may see more of them soon.
Most of the punks I know are not completely antisocial. Only the most hardcore ones would even consider the whole "anarchy" thing. Most of them like to talk about anarchy as a symbol of simple rebellion (not rebellion against EVERYTHING, mind you, but just some of society's institutions that have grown up over time and become the expected norm - i.e. a "9 to 5" job).
Most of them are really nice people beneath all the dressing. In fact, most of them are very shy and insecure people, and the punk facade gives them a feeling of being more powerful, as well as having a group identity that will help them make instant friends with like-looking people (not that they ignore all others, but they know right away that if you are dressed similarly, then that person probably shares a similar set of opinions and likes/dislikes as you).
I bet if you had spoken to them, they would have been more than willing to engage in a lengthy conversation with you. One punk I know went to Baptist church after Baptist church for a year or so, seeking some spiritual connection, but most of the people at those churches told him he must be possessed by the devil to look the way he does (large green mohawk, et al), and basically made such a big deal about his appearance that they scared him off. One Pentecostal church in Texas (we live in Oklahoma) actually tied him between two cars in a parking lot, and tried to "pull" the "demons" out of him. But he is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is very caring, honest, and generous, and probably the only thing he does that is immoral is drink too much sometimes.
But at any rate, if you would have asked them what movie they wanted to see, and talked to them like a fellow line-waiter, they would have undoubtedly talked to you. And if you offhandedly mentioned that you are a minister at some point later in the conversation, they may have even engaged you on that. But they probably would have run off or ignored you if you came up asking them if they are saved, or if they know Jesus, et cetera. Most of the people I know are very open about listening to people talk about God, so long as it is approached in the course of conversation rather than "right-out", like a salesman approach. There are too many people out there that scare people off by approaching with a too direct approach. But from what I gather by what you stated in your review, you would have led into witnessing a little more subtly, so I am sure you know this.
The reason they probably were making an exception for this movie in particular, is because the film is VERY similar in plot to Donnie Darko, a "punk" favourite, that came out the in summer of 2001. You may have seen it; it had Drew Barrymore in it. Punks generally love time travel and "future noir" movies, like Ridley Scott's Blade Runner with Harrison Ford, or "Dark City" with Jennifer Connolly, et cetera. Not that Buttefly Effect is a "future noir" film, but it is very similar to the other one I mentioned, in plot anyway. Also, 25 year-old Ashton Kutcher is becoming a really big star lately. He is definitely rising in profile, and this is his first really big film. He has his own show, "Punk'd" (no relation to the punk lifestyle) on MTV, and has made a big media sensation with his wedding engagement to 42 year old actress Demi Moore.
One thing I want to point out is when you say, "maybe more goth than punk if the two are separable". Yes! They are separate. Unfortunately there has been a haze put over the two in the past decade or so. To be "gothic" as the term grew up in the late 1970's is a little different than what being "gothic" meant in decades and centuries previous. In the early-mid 1850's, many different writers in England, such as Mary Shelley and Lord Byron, began writing fiction that explores darker themes, such as coming to terms with death, the weaknesses of humankind, the beauty and power of nature over mankind, et cetera, in such novels as Frankenstein and The Vampyre. This Romantic Movement as it is called in English Literature, and generally dubbed "gothic fiction", flourished over the next few decades, and just as it showed signs of weakening at the turn of the century, with all kinds of new technological inventions such as the telegraph, the phonograph, typewriters, et cetera, Bram Stoker came along and published THE definitive "gothic" novel in 1897. It has been the second-best-selling book of all time, just behind the Holy Bible.
Of course, cinema picked up on this wildly imaginative novel, which has some actual historical basis here and there, and Dracula today is the most filmed novel in cinema history. Currently over 120 films feature that character. Undoubtedly, this has had an impact on people who like to philosophize and think deep thoughts over a cup of coffee (I am being a tad facetious here, but just because I am trying my best to be brief).
I am not saying that Dracula in movies started the gothic movement mind you, because for decades throughout the 19th and 20th century many people considered themselves "gothic", because they had a natural inclination towards the fiction of that genre, and maybe even an affinity to the lifestyle and clothing of the Romantic era, with frock coats, laced cuffs, "poet shirts", et cetera. Then in the 1950-1970's many, many cheap paperbacks were released, termed "Gothic romances". These continued the original spirit of the genre's past century, but every one of them for the most part had the exact same plot. A young attractive woman arrives as a lodger at an old mysterious estate, ends up finding out some deep, dark secret about the family, is pursued by the lord of the manor, may run into a ghost or two, and on and on and on. The classic televsion series, "Dark Shadows" from the 1960's reflected this period.
Finally we come to the late 1970's London club scene. A group called Bauhaus records a song entitled, "Bela Lugosi's Dead". It became a huge hit at many clubs at the time. The band would play old Bela Lugosi movies on a screen behind them, particularly when playing this song. This inspired many club kids, many who already grew up on the Addam's Family, the Munsters, and horror movies, to "dress up" when they went to the clubs. They would paint their faces white and wear black clothing, to resemble Bela Lugosi, and his kith and kin. By the early-1980's this phased out. Flash forward to 1994. At this point there are some people who are taken with the Romantic Era literature, who occasionally dress in Victorian clothing, and listen to such notable classical composers as Beethoven, Bach, Franz Liszt, Wagner, et cetera. These people are generally very fond of Anne Rice, the devout Catholic woman who made her career by writing "Interview with the Vampire" in 1976. Over the years she wrote many books, mostly about supernatural characters like vampires, witches, and mummies, but as of late has turned to writing about Christianity. At any rate the big movie adaptation of Stoker's novel, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" had just came out two years' previous, directed by a top director (Francis Ford Coppola of landmark cinema films Godfather 1-3, and Apocalypse Now), and starring an all-star cast with Keanu Reeves, WInona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins. It was the most faithful to the novel any vampire film had ever been.
These "gothic" people who generally loved the beauty and detail of a bygone era basically exploded during 1992-1994, in big part because of the previously mentioned Dracula film, and because of the maga-hit adaptation of Rice's first vampire book, "Inteview with the Vampire", starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, and a very young Kirsten Dunst. By 1995 the "gothic" genre was in full-swing, and accordingly there were many people who enjoyed reading and watching these books/films.
Unfortunately, this period also prompted the old-style 1970's goth to resurface, and mix with this other kind, with some slight overlapping. Very quickly our modern media seized upon the imagined idea of a small young girl all in black, whitface, dyed jet black hair, spiked dog-collar (a strictly punk facet to be sure), a generally bad disposition, and who they imagined sat in her basement bedroom all day with the blinds shut, reading Anne Rice, writing poems in her diary about death, and practicing witchcraft. Wrong! Of course, this is the stereotyped image of a "gothic person", and unfortunately by now many people now think of punks when they hear the word "goth". Because the original conception of the term dealt with prose that many would consider "stuffy old literature", and clothing that is "too tedious and heavy, and hard to maintain", many punks became seen more as goth, opting instead to only watch vampire movies set in modern times like "Blade", having no textual references for their appearance, and basically taking over the term in the public's eye. I know some Christians who consider themselves "gothic", who do not go to clubs (myself included), who merely like that fashion the best for self-expression, over dressing in plain-clothes, and who most enjoy that period of history's art, or things relating to it.
In essence what this all boils down to is fashion, and similar tastes in literature/movies/music. Punks used to like raw, energetic, very loud thrash-like music in the 1970's when they formed. Now they listen to peppy 1980's bubble-gum pop music mainly (!), as well as "techno" dance music. Some goths wear Victorian clothing occasionally, some wear black a lot, some listen to classical music of the Romantic era, while some listen to "Industrial" music, which is often generically referred to as "gothic" music. I dislike "Industrial" being referred to as gothic, because it is too loud and chaotic, something I do not think fits the image like classical music does. But at any rate, I hope this gives you a clearer idea of the situation you encountered, and what you were pondering. One last thing I want to point out and then I am done: I am a screenwriting student, and I noticed in your "Ghost Dog" review from 1999, you mentioned that there were long segments without dialogue, and how the filmmaker's must not be too intelligent to not have been able to come up with dialogue. In movie theory it is considered better to have lesser amounts of dialogue, since film is a visual medium, and all the details that need to be conveyed should be done though imagery. It is too easy for a script-writer to have a character announce their intentions, or to slap a narrator on the film to explain everything verbally. At the time Ghost Dog came out, the director Jim Jarmusch was already a big respected success in the world of art cinema and independent film. The fact that the movie contained such little dialogue was actually praised as an achievement, because if you have ever tried to write movies, it is VERY VERY tough to do so without wanting your characters to be really chatty. That is why silent cinema films are still heavily studied in film schools today, and why they still hold up so well.
But anyway, thanks for the work you do, and for the wonderful website; I will continue to read about and seriously consider the things you bring to light!
If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.
***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
Single Christian Network
Kids, Teens and Home Vertical Portal
|There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|
|Thank you for visiting us and may God bless you. Prayerfully, we will provide you with some of the most revealing commentary and investigative reporting you have ever read.
In the name of Jesus:
Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God:
T. A. Carder
ChildCare Action Project (CAP) Ministry