Chaos Theory (2008)
Chaos Theory (2008)

Genre: Dramatic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Release Date: April 11th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Marcos Siega Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Emily Mortimer, Stuart Townsend, Sarah Chalke, Constance Zimmer, Elisabeth Harnois, Jovanna Huguet




haos Theory” doesn’t have enough humor to be a well-rounded comedy, nor does it have enough tragedy to be an adequately heavy-hitting drama. Instead, it chooses to blend those two genres, as well as adding in scenes of tearjerker romance, to awkwardly land somewhere in between any decipherable, focused tone – and into the realm of seemingly appropriate chaos. Ultimately, however, with a star like Ryan Reynolds, who seems suppressed by the overbearing drama in what should have been a straightforward, lighthearted comedy, “Chaos Theory” amounts to little more than a modest way to pass the time.

Frank Allen (Ryan Reynolds) lives life according to careful structuring and the planning out of every minute of his day. He does this with a system of note cards, which he writes for himself continuously. He’s so successful at it, he becomes an efficiency expert and public speaker who lectures on multi-tasking and organization skills to crowds of uncaring business people.

His wife Susan (Emily Mortimer), irked by his constant scribbling of notes, decides to set the clock back 10 minutes (described in the film as setting the clock forward) to give him some much-needed stress relief. Her mix-up causes him to miss the ferry that should have transported him to his presentation on time management. An hour behind schedule, Frank finds himself downing ten too many drinks – and unexpectedly in the company of a home-wrecking seductress in his hotel room. When his wife calls and overhears the woman’s voice, things go from bad to worse – complicated further when, on his hurried trip home, he gets in a car wreck with a pregnant woman and is stuck aiding in the spontaneous delivery of her child!

A film about comical miscalculations and grave misunderstandings, “Chaos Theory” does have its moments of genuine laughs and realistic drama. But the two rarely blend cohesively. At the start, the film is lighthearted and funny – until it coarsely crashes into eye-opening drama, which abruptly shifts the mood. Bits of wit attempt to seep into the now much-too-serious calamities that continue to pile onto poor Frank, but the humor is woefully too little, too late. Some of the events are downright traumatizing, while others are just silly, but the bombardment of unlucky coincidences and exhaustive love triangle dilemmas will wear out viewers who can’t envision a side of Reynolds involved with anything other than Van Wilder vulgarity.

Numerous other elements also plague the production. The characters often unrealistically restrain their use of abrasive language; many of the plot devices, such as the index card ultimatum Frank presents at the beginning of the film, are terribly predictable; Emily Mortimer remains dismally serious after the opening scene (in which she appears uncontrollably drunk); and the other supporting characters fail to emote anything remotely authentic. Reynolds juggles being a “creature of freedom” and a “monster of depression” as he adopts a lifestyle of embracing chance and whim over rigid planning, but neither jibes with his usual, over-the-top comedy – just as jumping from mild mirth to somber drama conflicts with the storytelling and direction.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10