Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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The Butterfly Effect makes me want to go back in time and keep it from being made. It's a peculiar film that seems to have been done by a competent director who has no idea what makes a movie any good. The script is three shades short of dreadful, the cast (headlined by one Ashton Kutcher, playing a brilliant psychology student) makes it even worse, routinely taking inane dialogue and making it sound flat out pathetic. The special effects are sort of cruddy, but that doesn't matter so much as the rest of it. It's a movie about a form of time travel, so one expects some continuity issues, but this film has holes that you could drive not just a truck but an Antonov 225 through. It dances between unwatchability and entertainingly stupid with surprising grace. I'm not sure why the movie was made as it was but it inspired me to write up a theory of how the final meetings might have gone. Keep in mind that it was written on the tail end of a migraine, so don't expect it to be good. IT'S NEVER GOOD.


                                   The Butterfly Dreck


               Three men sit around a conference table in a bright, spotless 
               room.  An entire wall consists of little more than floor-to-
               ceiling windows, and the other three appointed with the sort 
               of care and taste one might expect in a psychiatric ward for 
               executives gone off the deep end.  The table itself is a 
               dark wood finish without a single scratch.  On the walls are 
               various paintings by famous artists of the bland "This would 
               be appropriate for a post-card in a Boise gift shop" variety.  
               The potted plants are suspiciously green and lustrous, as if 
               they are either cared for by someone with extreme OCD or 
               replaced every night by the cleaning crew.  Possibly both.

               The three men are all clustered around the head of the table, 
               underneath what appears to be a Warhol-style painting of 
               Skeet Ulrich.  Two of them, the one at the actual head of 
               the table and the one to his right, are dressed nearly 
               identically, in the same dark suit with a starched white 
               shirt and the same "amusing" tie of little men with 8mm 
               cameras done in different power colors.  They have the same 
               body language, and when they smile the same bright white 
               teeth show.  Their deep tans speak of some sort of expensive 
               body cream that does a decent job of looking like neither a 
               self-tanner or an actual suntan.  The one at the head is 
               THAD while his compatriot to his right is TAD.  The man to 
               his left is wearing casual clothing, a hat with a production 
               company name, a button up shirt, and jeans.  He looks between 
               the two of them with a hint of consternation on his face.  
               His name is GREG.

                              (smiling broadly)
                         So you've read the Butterfly script, 

                         Yeah, I took a look at it.

                              (also smiling broadly)
                         FANTASTIC.  Let's get this deal DONE 

                              (laughing fakely)
                         I'm sorry, he gets excited sometimes.  
                         Tad, we haven't head what he thinks 
                         of it yet.

                         What is there to think about?  It's 
                         genius.  Am I wrong about this.  I'm 
                         not wrong.

               Greg shifts in his chair uncomfortably.


                         It's an interesting idea, but I did 
                         have a couple issues.

                         Of course there are issues, every 
                         script has issues.  You creative 
                         types crack me up.

               Thad shoots him a look

                                     TAD (CONT'D)
                         But no, we value your input.  What 
                         was the problem exactly?

                         Well it's a couple things, but I 
                         think we should start talking about 
                         some of the continuity errors, and 
                         then the dialogue is sort of...

                         Oh yeah.  Continuity.  Dialog.

               Thad appears to be taking notes on a yellow legal pad with a 
               very serious look on his face.  If one looked closely they 
               would notice that his pen is still capped.

                         ASHTON KUTCHER!

               Greg looks around in confusion.


                         He gets excited.  No, I think my 
                         colleague was saying that we've 
                         already attached

                         ASHTON KUTCHER!

                         Mr. Kutcher to the project.

                The door on the other side of the room swings open and a 
               receptionist walks in.  She is gorgeous, with long stockinged 
               legs, a tight skirt that accents her derriere, and an 
               impeccable suit top.  She is carrying a tray with three 
               Cappuccinos on it, which she places in front of the men and 
               walks away.  During the approximately 30 seconds she is in 
               the room nobody gives her any eye contact except Greg, who 
               looks away when her face betrays absolutely no reaction to 
               his attempt at a smile.


                         Ooo, LATTE!



               Tad excitedly grabs one of the cappuccinos and takes a deep 
               sip, which he quickly spits back into the cup, quickly sucking 
               breath and blowing out.

                                     TAD (CONT'D)
                         It's Hoooootttt.

               The other two men glance sidelong at him before continuing 
               their conversation.

                         The Ashton Kutcher space is heating 
                         up right now.  I think that it's a 
                         good move to get into production 
                         quickly, ride his rising Q-rating.

               Tad takes another sip of cappuccino, the result much the 
               same as the first.

                         Still too hot.

               He sets it down on the tray and smiles brightly.

                         That was another thing, are you sure 
                         Kutcher is right for the part.  I 
                         mean the main character here is 
                         supposed to be a brilliant 
                         psychologist, among other things, 
                         and his emotional arcs are both sudden 
                         and severe.  I just don't know if...

                         Ashton Kutcher's my favorite.

                         I hear what you're saying...but I 
                         think he's perfect.  He's absolutely 
                         dynamite on that show of his...what's 
                         the name again?

                         That 70's show?



                         Don't know what it's called

               Greg is nonplussed.

                         Anyway, he's great in that.  I've 
                         never seen it, but the ratings are 
                         high and the key demographics 
                         absolutely adore him.  And that's 
                         what you want in an actor, right?  
                         Good demographics, how many can boast 

                         Beautiful teeth.  He's got marvelous 
                         teeth.  His teeth could carry the 

                         I don't know, it just seems like the 
                         project has a lot of issues that 

                         What issues?  Schmissues!  You want 
                         more money?  We can get you more 
                         money.  Hey, I see you looking at 
                         Grace, the receptionist?  We can get 
                         you her.  Go to one of the bathroom 
                         stalls on the third floor, drop your 
                         pants.  She'll be with you in five 
                         minutes.  Let's make this deal!

                         Seriously.  She's all yours.  To be 
                         honest when I go to a movie I don't 
                         look for continuity or dialog or a 
                         good actor.  Give me some good special 
                         effects, some clever product 

                         We're already talking to knife makers.  
                         The Knives R Us Butterfly Knife 
                         Effect.  Now THAT'S a catchy title.

                         It could be your big break.

               The door rattles again, but this time instead of a secretary 
               entering it snaps off its hinges and flies out of the room.  
               Suddenly there is a massive sucking effect in the room.  The 
               two executives grab on to the table tightly, their hair 
               resisting the pull of the doorway thanks to the power of 
               mousse.  Greg starts to slide to the door before grabbing 
               the table too, steadying himself.


               His hat flies off his head and out the door, and his hair is 
               threatening to follow it.  The tray of cappuccinos slides 
               across the table and falls to the floor, smashing.  Then, as 
               suddenly  as it came the effect is gone and everything settles 
               down.  Two of the potted plants have been stripped off their 
               leaves and one was knocked over.  The calm seems almost 
               sinister after the storm.

                         Ashton must be here!

               Thad nods.  Greg looks at them in shock.

                         He does that when he forgets to put 
                         his earplugs in.  Apparently there's 
                         some kind of absolute vacuum in 
                         between his ears.  Our doctor's assure 
                         us that it's perfectly normal among 
                         Hollywood types, it won't pose an 
                         insurance issue.

                              (Smiling broadly)
                         You won't even notice it after awhile.

                         So, do we have a deal here?  Don't 
                         want to rush you but we've got 
                         Geoffrey Rush in here in 20 minutes.  
                         We're signing him for a remake of 
                         the Maisles flick Gimme Shelter.  We 
                         have to neaten up a little.  You 
                         know how Australians are, little 
                         dicks, neat freaks.

                         I thought that was Brits.


                         Where do we send the contract?

                              (nervously, as he 
                              starts to get up 
                              from the table.)
                         I'll have to think about it.

                Thad's hand reaches up and grabs his shoulder, shoving him 
               roughly back down into his chair.  The two executives stop 
               smiling, their faces dropping into grim scowls.  There's 
               something there behind the eyes now, something dark and 


                              (in a thick Russian 
                         My name is Vladimir.  I am ex-KGB.  
                         This is Piotr.  You will make movie.

                              (also in a thick 
                              Russian accent)
                         You will make movie, or you will 
                         die.  The choice is yours little 

                         What's going on here?

                         We are KGB.  We were sent to destroy 
                         Hollywood movie industry, so RUSSIAN 
                         movies could replace them.  This is 
                         part of plan.

                         Wait, the Soviet Union collapsed.

               Thad/Vladimir grabs him by the neck now, baring his white 
               teeth in rage.

                         It NEVER collapse!  That is capitalist 
                         lie.  The Soviet Union lives forever.  
                         A thousand years for the glory of 
                         the worker.  Watch your tongue, pig-

                         We know where your mother lives.  We 
                         have men near her.  Unless you make 
                         movie she will be never be safe.  
                         You will make this piece of shit and 
                         you will no-one why.  You will honor 
                         the Ashton Kutcher space in public!

               They stare at him intensely.

                         Okay, Jesus.  Okay.  I'll do it.  
                         Fine.  It's just a movie guys.

               Thad/Vladimir releases his hold.

                              (returning to his 
                              English accent)
                         Great.  Go see Grace for the details.  
                         We're in business cowboy.


               They smile at him, the bright sheen of their too white teeth 
               gleaming with menace.  Greg gets up, smiles as best he can, 
               and scampers from the room.  Tad turns to Thad.

                         That KGB thing works every time.

                         Seriously, directors are such fickle 
                         animals.  You mention their moms and 
                         they can't WAIT to work with you.

                         Want to go to the bathroom and do 
                         lines of coke off each other's dicks 
                         while Grace cleans this up?

                         Sure, but not in a gay way.

                         SO not in a gay way.

               They get up and leave.  The Warhol painting of Skeet Ulrich 
               teeters and falls to the floor, with a loud clacking noise.  
               The sun shines brightly through the window still, on a now 
               empty room.


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