With Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming epic Noah about to hit theatres, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at a very different take on that particular Bible story. The big question here is can a $200 million dollar comedy hope to recoup its cost? My guess is that if said project 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 fewer hopes of being entertained and thus I went into the theatre with expectations so lowered you’d need an unobtanium 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 its 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.
Build a sequel and they will come.
Evan Baxter (Steve Carell
) has moved on from his career as a 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.
“You were expecting perhaps George Burns?”
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 the development of parkland, 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. One particular idiotic moment in this 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?
” as if that is something that could actually happen overnight.
“I’m going for the Charles Manson look, do you like?”
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 suddenly somehow has one. That the whole “magic beard” bit is lifted right out of Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause just makes it that much sadder, and the failed attempts at comedy are not helped out by not-so-special visual effects.
“Hey, 1990 wants their video graphics card back.”
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 this may 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 for the rental Steve Carell made it worth checking out for me (experiences may vary wildly), and I did find the character of Evan to be more likable than Jim Carrey’s character in Bruce Almighty, but viewer’s opinions may vary on that as well.
So, if you are bored and want a harmless and silly film to rent for the kids you could do worse than Evan Almighty or, instead, you could find a copy of Oh, God! starring George Burns and John Denver as that film really had fun with the premise of God meddling with some poor sap.
Evan Almighty (2007)
Movie Rank - 5.5/10
A modern day Noah that sinks more than it floats.