Slaughterhouse Five is an adaptation of Vonnegut's novel of the same name and continues that book's atmosphere of black comedy within a backdrop of chaotic time travel fantasy. Its protagonist, the relevantly-named Billy Pilgrim, is followed through a first-person point of view that lets the audience see him survive the bombings of World War II, only to be 'rewarded' by experiencing mysterious slips in time. This time-traveling dilemma forces Billy to experience his life out of order as we watch, from relatively ordinary scenes like childbirth up to bizarre encounters with sociopaths and extraterrestrial life forms.
Through these chaotic shifts in his experiences, Billy acquires an enduring, every-man persona that allows him to accept even the most unusual circumstances with relative serenity. In contrast to more typical movies whose acts take place in a war-torn setting, Slaughterhouse Five emphasizes the hero's isolation and the brutal impact of meaningless violence. Simultaneously, the movie also keeps its tongue firmly in cheek, providing bitter humor to prevent itself from becoming overwhelmingly depressing or slow.
While Slaughterhouse Five's jumps backwards and forwards in chronology may appear to be random or confusing, they actually are designed in a structure that repeated viewings will reveal to be nothing short of deliberate, adding a great deal of depth to this anti-war tale.