a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Monday, July 16, 2007

Whew... and Ewww

Recently I've been working on a TV spec idea involving time travel, an idea that seems suited to being an hourlong TV episode rather than a film.

So it was with some concern that I learned that the idea I had might be a little too similar to the Ashton Kutcher film THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, which I had never seen.

With some trepidation, I picked up a copy the other day, and popped it into the DVD player. The movie hooked me early; it's an interesting idea, and with relief I realized that it really wasn't all that similar to my movie at all.

I continued watching the movie, however, to see what plot machinations that it had that I might want to avoid in my script.


THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT has a changing-the-past premise that probably would have been more effective as a gentler, smarter film; think FREQUENCY. Instead, this tale just gets darker, darker, and darker, all rather off-puttingly:

-- Children are molested by Eric Stoltz.

-- A woman and her baby get blown up.

-- Ashton Kutcher is raped in prison, and then offers up oral sex to some of the prisoners.

-- A young woman's face is slashed by her brother, and she turns to prostitution.

-- A dog is burned alive in a bag.

-- Ashton Kutcher's arms are blown off.

-- An unborn baby commits suicide by strangling itself in the womb.

All of which I don't mind leaving out of my script. So it's all good.


At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Elver said...

But that stuff sells. And to us viewers who have been desensitized by violence... It moves us emotionally.

I rather liked that movie, myself.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

The unborn baby strangling itself was in the director's cut only.

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Ryan said, the unborn baby killing itself was only in the director's cut, as was Ashton getting raped, girl getting cut by brother, etc. The theatrical release version, especially the ending, was much more positive and, in my opinion, much better.

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so disagree. The theatrical release was so tame - it seemed to me to be a studio washed down version of the director's vision, cutting out everything that made the film different or edgy; it became a generic ending. I loved the ending of the director's version - very haunting - especially when considering that she had had three children before who died in childbirth - it had all happened before.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Dante Kleinberg said...

Dude, spoilers!

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Danny said...

What's the name of that show Taye Diggs was on this past season?

I think it only made it for about six episodes, but wasn't it a similar premise as well?

He keeps reliving the same day, but he's able to change it each time.

I'd check that show out too, Scott.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Dante Kleinberg said...


Go on and watch the preview clips for Journeyman, a new show for Fall.

Is this basically the idea you're working on? If so, let me pre-empathize with you.

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Nic said...

I think time travel is coming back in vogue. Saw that Dante mentioned Journeyman and on the off chance that I'm just on a weirdly coincidental Television kick- I just finished up an excellent BBC show called Life On Mars that might warrant mention. LOM has a weird time-travel angle, quite different from say Quantum Leap or Day Break (the Taye Diggs thing- which I was sorta enjoying). It's getting a spin-off on the BBC and being remade for American TV but the original is really sharp.

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I didn't realize that the Director's cut of The Butterfly Effect added that much material. Interesting.

There's a lot of time travel stuff out there; there's Hiro on Heroes too (though his time travel stuff has really been vaguely-handled and underused so far; I think they're tried to avoid the question of why his ability would enable him to be more of a factor in beating the bad guys.

Journeyman is a concern as well. I think my particular idea is original enough to work for the single episode I need it to be, but I'm wondering what the Journeyman hook is. Is he landing in his own body at different ages? How is this automatically changing the future?


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