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Monday, October 8, 2012

Evan Almighty (2007

Can a $200 million dollar comedy hope to recoup its cost? My guess is that if it involves director Tom Shadyac the chances have moved from slim to none. Having watched Bruce Almighty for the first time just prior to seeing this “sequel” I had even less hopes of being entertained, and thus I went into the theatre with expectations so lowered you’d need a unobtaniumed drilling machine to find them. So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself not hating every moment of this film (note there are still plenty of moments to hate), but that is as positive of a note I can give a film that runs out just one too many clichés and tropes for it's own good. Steve Carell is the only reason to even think of sitting through this film as he is very likable (unlike Jim Carrey in the first film), and somehow maintains his dignity throughout this enterprise.

Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) has moved on from his career as Buffalo news anchor to the exciting world of politics as a freshman congressman. His wife (Lauren Graham) is supportive but his three kids are angered about moving to Washington and losing all their friends. Yes, five minutes into the film and cliché number one rears its ugly head, and is further piled on with the tired old trope of the dad who puts work before his family. If only someone would answer their prayers and make this family a close knit picture of Norman Rockwell proportions. Enter God (Morgan Freeman) who tells Evan that a flood is coming and that he must build an ark. At first Evan is skeptical but after God harasses him into submission (I must have missed that part in the original Noah story) he agrees to build the ark. This of course doesn’t sit well with the wife or his co-workers. We also have the shady congressman played by John Goodman who wants Evan to sign a bill that would allow development of park land, and he is even more displeased when Evan starts dressing like a hermit and leading animals around two by two.
This leads to one of the biggest leaps of faith the movie expects you to make as more and more animals arrive to help build the ark or just hang around making Evan’s life more complicated. If one can buy that God is “magically” making lions, tigers, and bears show up in a fashionable suburb outside of Washington they may find it harder to swallow the lack of repercussions. One newsman (played by old Daily Show friend Ed Helms) makes mention that with all these species what is being done about the feces? More to the point what are all these creatures eating? That is assuming God is doing his usual number and preventing them from eating each other. But the big problem I had was the complete lackadaisical reaction the world had to all these animals showing up at Evan’s home in the first place. Come on people! How can any character doubt that Evan is talking to God when he has elephants and giraffes showing up to follow him around? (Not to mention all the animal rights groups and agencies that would be all over him for having such a collection of dangerous and endangered species in his backyard) Add in the fact that he has a magically re-growing beard, and he shouldn’t have any difficulties proving Devine intervention.
One particular idiotic moment in the movie is when he first comes down to breakfast with his new miracle grow beard and his wife asks him, “When did you start growing a beard?” WTF??? She has to be one of the most clued out wives in the history of the world if she hadn’t noticed that the night before her husband was beardless and now somehow has one. That the whole “magic beard” bit is lifted right out of the Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause just makes it that much sadder.
Now I won’t get into the flood, as that leads to major spoiler issues, but if one remembers that God promised Noah he would never flood the world again you may have an inkling as to where the filmmakers are going with this, and plus it would be hard pressed for anybody to make a comedy that ended with the death of billions.

So that does sound like a movie most people should avoid like the plague, but I must admit I smiled and chuckled from time to time (when not being hit over the head with the film’s message) so I can’t condemn the movie completely. At a cost of $4.20 Steve Carell made it worth checking out for me (experiences may vary wildly), and it was leaps and bounds more enjoyable than Bruce Almighty. So if you are bored and want a harmless and silly film to take the kids to you could do worse than Evan Almighty.

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