Chaos Theory

October 16th, 2008


Chaos Theory

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Still of Marcos Siega in Chaos TheoryStill of Stuart Townsend in Chaos TheoryStill of Ryan Reynolds in Chaos TheoryStill of Ryan Reynolds, Christine Chatelain and Ty Olsson in Chaos TheoryStill of Ryan Reynolds and Sarah Chalke in Chaos TheoryStill of Ryan Reynolds in Chaos Theory

The story of an obsessively organized efficiency expert whose life unravels in unexpected ways when fate forces him to explore the serendipitous nature of love and forgiveness.

Release Year: 2008

Rating: 6.8/10 (16,951 voted)

Critic's Score: 44/100

Director: Marcos Siega

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Emily Mortimer, Stuart Townsend

At his daughter's wedding, time-management specialist Frank Allen corners the reluctant groom and tells him a long story: about the night his wife chose him, and then, about eight years later, when a missed ferry, a corporate groupie, a panicked expectant mother, and a medical test brought Frank's marriage to a crisis. In the midst of the crisis were Frank, his wife Susan, their daughter Jesse, and Frank's best friend, the feckless Buddy. Things come to a head at a lake when Frank, armed with a shotgun, decides to cross something permanently from one of his time-management lists. Is there ever room for whim and chaos?

Ryan Reynolds - Frank Allen
Emily Mortimer - Susan
Stuart Townsend - Buddy Endrow
Sarah Chalke - Paula Crowe
Mike Erwin - Ed
Constance Zimmer - Peg the Teacher
Matreya Fedor - Jesse Allen (7 years)
Elisabeth Harnois - Jesse Allen
Chris William Martin - Damon
Jovanna Huguet - Maid of Honor
Christopher Jacot - Best Man
Alessandro Juliani - Ken
Lisa Calder - Sherri
Ty Olsson - Evil Ferryman
Jocelyne Loewen - Pregnant Nancy

Taglines: He planned his life like clockwork. Now things are going cuckoo.


Official Website: Warner bros. [United States] |

Release Date: 16 October 2008

Filming Locations: Squamish, British Columbia, Canada

Opening Weekend: $23,880 (USA) (13 April 2008) (11 Screens)

Gross: $237,958 (USA) (20 April 2008)

Technical Specs


Incorrectly regarded as goofs: We hear Susan state that she put the clocks forward by 10 minutes. Frank gets angry with her because it makes him late for his presentation. It may seem as though Frank has made a mistake - as putting the clocks forward by 10 minutes would in fact make him early - but Frank realises that Susan put the clocks backwards by mistake.

[first lines]
Jesse Allen: [to Maid of Honor, while wearing wedding dress] Give it to me straight: virginal bride or slut in white?

User Review

Chaos Theory is an honest and well-done look at a man whose world is turned upside down

Rating: 8/10

Chaos Theory is an extremely well done film. It is a serious, emotional and at times humorous look at life and love that is incredibly honest and centers around equally honest and real characters. With the feel of a good indie flick and a strong leading man, Chaos Theory is one of those rare, genuine explorations of the human condition.

Frank Allen (Ryan Reynolds), an obsessively organized efficiency expert and top-selling author, has spent his entire life planning out every little detail and following the lists and schedules he makes for himself. He clings to controlling everything because it brings order, which gives him a sense of comfort and peace of mind.

One day, Frank's wife Susan (Emily Mortimer) sets the clocks forward ten minutes to help him be early for his schedule but accidentally sets them back ten minutes instead, making him late for his lecture on efficiency and setting off a chain of events that sends Frank's life spiraling. Through a course of seemingly random events, he learns some new information that, in effect, reveals to him that much of what he believed about his life is based on false information.

Not knowing how to deal with the revelation, Franks throws everything he's ever believed about order and efficiency out the window and starts living life on whim and chance. As he lets chaos overtake his life, he struggles to deal with the new truth that defines his life and forgive those involved.

The movie has its share of funny parts, but it really shines in its dramatic moments - when it's serious and honest. It effectively deals with things like relationships, truth, friendship and forgiveness, and it all feels true to how real people would react. As Frank and Susan try to deal with the new information, they begin to reassess their marriage and Frank questions what he's believed in for so long. His downward spiral into chaos is both interesting and realistic as well; none of it rings false. As you watch it all transpire on the screen, you're able to understand and relate to many of the emotions that Frank is struggling with.

Much of this success comes from the performance of Ryan Reynolds, an actor best known for comedic roles in movies like Waiting… and Van Wilder, but who has an intensity and seriousness about him that translates powerfully to other types of roles. This is evident in Definitely, Maybe as well as Chaos Theory, and the latter is quite a departure from the comedy work he has done previously – one he excels in and should do more often.

One scene where his talent and intensity really comes through is when Frank pulls over onto the side of the road just after he discovers the life-altering news. As he sits on the curb trying desperately not to break down, choking back tears and vomit, his pain is clearly visible in both his eyes and in his physical anguish, and it exudes off the screen. The strength of Reynolds' performance really heightens this scene, as well as the whole movie, and makes the character and his feelings relatable and evocative for the viewer. Reynolds easily carries the movie, which is even better off because of it.

Chaos Theory is an extremely honest, sometimes sad, always emotional and very real exploration of how a person deals with a drastic change in their life. With a strong and atypical performance from Ryan Reynolds, and enough humor, hope and insight to keep it from being depressing, Chaos Theory is definitely one of the more intelligent films of 2008 and shouldn't be missed.


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