Chaos Theory


A hyperorganised, bearded Ryan Reynolds’ life falls apart when his wife sets the clocks 10 minutes slow one morning, setting off a chain of events that pushes him way off the rails.


Marcos Siega, 2008

I really like Ryan Reynolds. I think he’s a solid actor – he’s got terrific comic timing, he can deliver drama and depth with aplomb, he looks damn good without a shirt, his name is alliterative, and he has a sense of humour about himself. Having said that, I can’t think of a movie I really like with him in it. They’re pretty much all average. I don’t know whether this is because he’s not very good at choosing projects, or if he’s trying too hard or something, but I haven’t seen a movie yet that lets him show off what he can do – unlike Chris Evans, an actor I think of in a fairly similar way. This movie is another underwhelmingly average film with a strong Ryan Reynolds performance.

The flashback-style structure of this movie (set at Ryan Reynolds’ adult daughter’s wedding, flashing back to before her parents were married and then when she was 7) seems forced. It lacks the sparkle and deftness of Definitely, Maybe, if not the inappropriateness (both setups are equally weird – talkig to your kid about your sex life vs. talking to your future son in law about THAT TIME YOUR WHOLE LIFE WENT TO SHIT). The majority of the movie all takes place in one time, which is fine and clear enough. Ryan Reynolds’ life takes a believable enough downturn after a couple of somewhat unbelievable events set him down that path, and he has some funny moments along with some downright disturbing ones. The moral of the story, as given by the film, is…not what I got out of it at all.

Emily Mortimer and Stuart Townsend are fine, but their accents are both pretty iffy. In the scenes with just the two of them they sound particularly Scottish – hitting the Rs hard but sounding mostly British otherwise. The little girl is cute, and Sarah Chalke puts in a memorably boozy performances as a kind of barfly. I was excited to see Alessandro Juliani, and said that he wasn’t used much. Emily Mortimer’s role as the prickly but magnetic wife becomes less appealing as the movie progresses, accusing Ryan Reynolds (fairly) of cheating when it turns out she did (or didn’t? This part was confusing), and Stuart Townsend seems like he’s supposed to be likeable but isn’t, as he has a number of moments when he acts like he’s entitled to her love, which is pretty appalling. Ryan Reynolds anchors the movie, delivering a performance with moving depth and comic highlights alongside a few missteps. There’s a throughline of organisation vs. whim, and which is better – the movie seems to say you need a balance of both, which is considered and smarter than the film preceding this message suggests.

One day we might get a really good Ryan Reynolds movie. This isn’t a bad watch – better than the other night’s Paper Man – but it’s average.

Chaos Theory on IMDb


2 thoughts on “Chaos Theory

  1. I don’t understand how so many misapprehend an enormous flaw in this movies plot. If it’s agreed that setting a clock behind means “slow” and setting ahead means “fast” then If wife set the clocks 10 minutes slow husband is just fine. He as 10 MORE minutes that morning to catch the ferry. If she’d set the clocks 10 minutes ahead only then could he have been late for the boat. She even admits in her dialog that she did it to trick him into spending 10 more minutes in bed. Pretty amazing that such an error could have slipped past the writers, actors, crew, and millions of viewers. Doesn’t change the movie of course once you mentally accept the idea proposed rather than the real timing flaw.

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