Movie Review: 'Chaos Theory'
As a good guy pushed to the brink, Ryan Reynolds shows terrific comic timing as well as unexpected sensitivity. He maintains audience sympathy even when his character, Frank, does stupid things. The guy is just likable.
And game. Reynolds withstands silly setups and obvious story devices without ever breaking stride.
Written by Daniel Taplitz and directed by Marcos Siega, "Chaos Theory" is the kind of film in which characters get the wrong impression and then run out of the room without attempting to clear things up. Misapprehensions persist in scene after scene.
These situations will frustrate unless you decide to just go with them - and with a lead character who seems a tad familiar.
Frank is a compulsively organized efficiency expert who needs to loosen up. Hey, haven't we seen this guy before? Like in every Ben Stiller movie?
Frank is married to Susan (Emily Mortimer), with whom he has a daughter (Matreya Fedor). Whether or not Susan is sympathetic during the first part of the movie depends on where the viewer falls on the whole efficiency/control spectrum. When Susan changes the clocks in the house to teach Frank to relax but inadvertently makes him late, she's not so much a freeing influence as a saboteur.
Mortimer being so gosh-darn adorable certainly helps Susan's cause. Indeed, everyone in "Chaos Theory" is adorable. Siega has cast actors who are just familiar enough to be recognizable but not so familiar they bring along baggage.
Stuart Townsend brings some depth to what could have been a stock role as Frank's swinging-single pal. Sarah Chalke, accustomed to fast-paced wisecracking on "Scrubs," goes toe to toe comedically with Reynolds as a woman who tries to seduce Frank at the hotel where he's just given a presentation.
Frank's interaction with Chalke's character sets off a chain of events that includes a big fight with his wife and a devastating bit of news. Things eventually go so haywire that Frank throws off the efficiency-expert shackles in favor of a combination liberation/breakdown.
Reynolds lets us see the wheels turn throughout this process, crafting Frank's stark behavior change as the thinking man's flip-out.
See the trailer and find local showtimes for "Chaos Theory."