Chaos Theory (2008)

Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content and language.
Length: 85 minutes
Grade: CDB+D=C
Budget: Unknown
Box Office: $237,000

Written by: Daniel Taplitz, who’s only written things you haven’t heard of.
Directed by: Marcos Siega, who has only directed television before, including Dexter and guest directing episodes of October Road, Shark, Cold Case, and one of my favorite new shows, Life.

Ryan Reynolds, Emily Mortimer, Stuart Townsend, Sarah Chalke, and Mike Erwin.
Summary: Frank Allen lectures on time management, but when his schedule is thrown off one day his well-orchestrated life comes apart at the seams and he eventually embraces a chaotic and random philosophy instead.

Entertainment Value: C
It was a little bit funny. It was a little bit awkward. It felt very much like a long television episode, which makes sense given the director. But so many of the ideas are fascinating that it’s lack of real great entertainment value rescues it from being otherwise fairly average.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sexuality D, Violence C, Language C, Illegality NA
The big issues here are infidelity, reckless behavior, and language. I was a little surprised that this was PG-13, and I would definitely put it on the R-15 or higher level.

Significant Content: B+
Though there are lots of smaller issues here, the two biggies in this movie are the nature of love and the value of planning. First, real love is brilliantly portrayed as a choice rather than an emotion, both regarding spouses and children. Second, life is unpredictable, and the key to happiness is learning to embrace this fact rather than going off either of the deep ends of hypercontrol or deliberate chaos.

Artistic/Thought Value: D
Production value here was particularly low. I felt like I was almost watching a television pilot. Not quite, but almost. Also, the setup to the whole plot felt terribly contrived and awkward. Nonetheless, as you’ll see in a moment, there’s plenty to talk about here.

Discussion Questions:
~To what degree do you think that life is predictable? What do you think of the idea that we should embrace chance and whim? Looking back on your own life, how many of the major developments in it seem tied to a random or chance circumstance? Do you believe it was chance or do you attribute those things to God?
~Legalism is the idea that every element of life can be controlled with specific rules that create a good result. To what degree do you think that time management philosophies are legalistic?
~Do you believe in fate? What about free will? Is there any chance in life?
~Do you think love is more a matter of passion or a matter of choice? Regardless, how important is it to make the choice to act lovingly toward those people you’ve already made commitments to, even if you don’t feel loving toward them?
~The Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive. How does this relate to this movie?
~Is Frank’s life rendered meaningless by the revelation he receives about his family?
~Compare and contrast Frank’s life with that of his aimless friend.

Overall Grade: C
Despite the high quality thought content, it’s so mediocre otherwise that I can’t really endorse it. But I don’t oppose it either. It’s a C, and that’s what C means. Adequate.

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