The filmmakers behind Evan Almighty, or as I like to call it The Movie We’re Going to be Watching on Television After Easter Dinner for the Next Twenty Years or So are clearly hoping to have families lining up two by two to see this movie, reported to be the most expensive comedy ever made.
In this sort-of sequel to Bruce Almighty, Steve Carell stars as Evan Baxter, a former newscaster turned US Congressman. The night before his first session in Congress he prays for the strength to do his part to change the world and to be able to spend more time with his family. As you may have heard, God (Morgan Freeman) works in mysterious ways, and grants Baxter’s wish by commanding him to build an ark. How that is going to do anything but turn him into a laughing stock isn’t immediately made clear. What is clear (to his family and co-workers at least) is that Baxter appears to have lost his mind. When wild animals start turning up, in pairs, at his home and office it seems he isn’t some crackpot, but a man on a mission from God.
When his hair starts to grow uncontrollably and his wardrobe choices change from three piece power suits to two piece flowing robes he gets suspended from his job, allowing him to spend more time with his family who help him build his ark. See where this is going?
Anyone laying down their hard-earned cash expecting to see the Steve Carell of The Office or The 40 Year Old Virgin will be disappointed. Here, apart from a few gags at the beginning, and some funny monkey business (literally) he is mostly acting as straight man here. The irreverent comedy he is best known for is absent, and Evan Almighty feels like it has been sanitized for family audiences to the point of becoming bland.
There are a few laughs, but whoever said that you should never act with kids or animals was on to something. Carell just seems lost amid the livestock.
There are some effective special effects, where I guess the bulk of the $200 million budget went, but none have the wow factor necessary to rescue this movie from ho-hum-ville.
Evan Almighty is a simple retelling of the Moses and the Ark story; is a moral tale with strong messages for families, but, (Evan help us!), misses out on one crucial element that would have improved this so-called comedy—jokes.