Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Evan Almighty
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 26 June 2007 00:00
Bible Stories 101:
Back in the Old Testament when God was still practicing his disciplinarian parenting skills He didn’t have a reputation for being a very lenient father figure. So, when He was really unhappy with His thousands of children, He decided a good flooding would teach them a lesson. Keep in mind that this was when spanking was still ok, and “time-outs” hadn’t been invented yet. Noah (who was 600 years old, retired, and loved The Weather Network) planned ahead and built an ark. This way he could save his family and start an up animal husbandry business. With the only remaining animals on the planet I’m sure he was able to turn a tidy profit.
 
The family friendly comedy Evan Almighty takes the story of Noah’s Ark and turns it on its head - although not in quite the way I just did. This Bruce Almighty sequel features Steve Carrell reprising his scene-stealing role as a news anchor with a huge ego.

Evan Baxter has moved on to politics since we last met him. As a US congressman he wants to change the world. When God (Morgan Freeman) appears and tells him to build an ark Evan just thinks he’s just delusional from stress. But when the animals and lumber start to show up he realizes that his life is about to change in ways that are beyond his control.
 
Steve Carrell is an extremely charismatic actor, and this is the fist time I’ve ever seen him fizzle. Don’t get me wrong; even at half-capacity he still far outshines most of his peers. With any other lead actor this movie would have gone straight to the bargain bin. All the same, I don’t think he was given the freedom he really needed to shine, sticking too strictly to a mediocre script. A major flaw is that his character is basically replaced in the first ten minutes of the movie. Evan Baxter goes from being an insincere, pompous ass (funny), to an idealistic, family man (not so funny).

There are several cringe-worthy moments including an indulgent scene where a marquee advertises “The 40 Year-Old Virgin Mary”. Get it? Haha. It’s like the filmmakers were so excited to sign on Steve Carrell they nearly wet themselves.

At times some genuine laugh-out-loud moments that had me enjoying things despite myself. Watching Carrell awkwardly deliver lines while covered in exotic birds certainly has its charms. As does seeing him stuff flowing biblical robes into his business suit. But things always seem to go one step too far with overly cutesy close ups of monkeys doing something stupid or birds pooing on someone.

The message of family values comes across a little strong. I’m not convinced that Baxter’s 14 year old son would be all that disappointed about not spending time with dear old dad. Especially when daddy is sporting a canvas dress and ranting about talking to God. And Evan’s wife (Lauren Graham) would be more likely to file divorce papers and have him committed than to stand by her man.

At the end of the Noah’s Ark story God creates a rainbow as a symbol of his love. As we were leaving the theatre a beautiful rainbow was arching across the sky above the movie theatre. It was like God saying: “It’s ok Steve Carrell. We love you anyway.”

I give Evan Almighty 5 out of 10 stars.