Steve Oedekerk, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow
Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, Johnny Simmons, Graham Phillips, Jimmy Bennett, John Goodman, Wanda Sykes, John Michael Higgins, Jonah Hill, Molly Shannon, Harve Presnell
PG (For mild rude humor and some peril)
In the beginning, there was Bruce. And Bruce was good. Then Universal created Evan. Evan Almighty brought to the world a flood that destroyed all that was good.
Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), the rival newsman from Bruce Almighty, somehow moved from demon-possessed motor-mouth to U.S. Representative. Now, he’s uprooted his family and moved to Washington D.C. in an effort to bring a change to the world. That change will come in the form of a National Park-opening piece of legislation proposed by Congressman Long (John Goodman). Baxter hopes to use the legislation as a stepping stone to bigger and better things in Congress.
However, God (Morgan Freeman) believes Evan is destined for something more and through a number of not-so-subtle hints tells Evan that he must build an ark.
The film follows the story of Noah, his wife and three sons building an ark in which to rescue the animals of the world from a flood that would destroy the wicked of the world. That to major Biblical inaccuracies flood the story means very little to the makers of the film.
Writer Steve Oedekerk was once funny. What happened to the screenwriter who crafted the better-than-expected Bruce Almighty is unknown, but his screenplay for Evan Almighty is as hackneyed as any film made in the last decade. It suffers from self-aggrandizement. The plot is a 100% retread of every other money-hungry-government vs. down-to-earth everyman ever written.
Oedekerk suggests that God isn’t one to keep his word, promising never to flood the world again. Instead, he’ll do it this one time to protect the pristine natural environment he created (he’s already a bit late for that). We even get the promissory rainbow at the end of the film which seems antithetical to its legendary history.
A minor detail, but one any religious expert could point out in a flash is that Noah had three grown sons to help him, each of whom had a wife. That the reason for the original flood was to repopulate the world is completely absent from the film. And why then does this new ark need two of every kind of animal? Who knows, the film certainly doesn’t want to tell us.
Evan Almighty supposedly cost $200 million to make. Where did all that money go? It must have been used to pay Carell to appear in the film because if it was used on visual effects, it was virtually wasted. There are scenes during the actual flood that work incredibly well with the effects, but every other use of green screen in the film goes horribly awry. The animals and the humans never look like they share the screen as the lighting on the people and the lighting on the animals are consistently wrong. That Industrial Light and Magic can produce these kinds of effects is one of the reasons why Weta Digital has become the pre-eminent effects house on the planet.
Director Tom Shadyac further compounds the film’s failings by ignoring them in the first place. Then, he goes so far as to use poorly crafted shots to move the film along and when you leave the theater, you feel like he and the editors just slapped everything together and forgot about re-shoots.
The disaster in the film is not the flood but the entire adventure. Brow-beating moralization, religious-tinged nuttiness and a slew of weaker-than-average performance prove that Shadyac and Oedekerk should let this series die. And hopefully they will.
June 30, 2007