Movie Review: Evan Almighty
Release Date: June 22, 2007
Distributor: Universal Pictures
· Tom Shadyac
· Steve Carell
· Morgan Freeman
· Lauren Graham
· John Goodman
· Wanda Sykes
· Molly Shannon
· Harve Presnell
· IMDb: Evan Almighty
· Official Website
"Evan Almighty": A Comedy of Biblical Proportions
(c) 2007 Universal Pictures
by R.J. Carter
Published: July 9, 2007
In "Bruce Almighty", Steve Carell played Evan Baxter, the nemesis to Jim Carrey's character of Bruce, and the object of Bruce's wrath when he obtains the powers of God Himself.
In this somewhat-sequel, "Evan Almighty", Evan Baxter is leaving behind his news anchor desk for a congressional seat in Washington, DC. He's made a pretty big campaign promise, too: Change the World. It's a promise he's going to need some help with, and he gets it from an unexpected divine source.
For the first several minutes of the film, Carell plays... well, Steve Carell, as we've come to know him from The Office. But as the show progresses, his character metamorphoses -- literally and figuratively -- as God answers his prayer to help him change the world, delivering a toolkit and a truckload of lumber. God (an easygoing Morgan Freeman) has a very simple task for Even: Build an ark.
Soon, Evan's life is turned upside down as the animals begin to arrive. His wife, Joan (Lauren Graham) thinks he's having a mid-life crisis; his three sons -- Dylan, Jordan and Ryan (Johnny Simmons, Graham Phillips, and Jimmy Bennett) pitch in just to spend time with their often distant dad; and corrupt senior Congressman Long (John Goodman, channeling his character from "Born Yesterday") has just about had it with Evan, as his antics are endangering the passage of his CINPLAN bill (pronounced "sin plan") which will allow developers to grab large sections of national parks.
The purpose of the ark is more than just a symbolic one, however. God has warned Evan that a great flood is coming, even as the area is in the throes of a drought. And despite the fact that there are animals from all around the world congregating on the Baxter property -- two by two -- the ark is still surrounded by catcallers and naysayers as the dreaded date given by God arrives. Even Baxter's assistants and friends who work with him (Wanda Sykes, John Michael Higgins, and Jonah Hill) are among those trying to get Evan to give it up, come down, and let the ark be destroyed. But God has plans no one else is privy to... and it's a good thing He's got Evan in place.
If I Had a Hammer. God offers Evan encouragment
in his nautical endeavor.
(L-R: Carell, Freeman)
If you're an amateur biblical scholar, you'll have some fun noticing the references peppering the film: the General Electric clock with the letters worn down so that it's a "Gen:" clock that goes off every morning at 6:14 -- Genesis 6:14, where God commands Noah to build an ark; the phone number of the delivery company that brings the lumber: 1 800 GO 4 WOOD; Molly Shannon's real estate character, Eve Adams; even Evan's wife's name, Joan... of Ark. They were fun when they were subtle, but after a bit, the screenwriters have to go out of their way to explain them to those in the audience not grasping their significance.
The film also has an ecological message, although not as heavily delivered as I would have expected before going in. During the introduction of the Baxter family, we see Evan approving kitchen cabinet installation, choosing the 300 year old Brazilian cherry over the maple, and later chasing away a stray dog. So we're given to know he's a man who cares little about plants and animals. And while Evan does become a kinder, gentler person who grows closer to his family, we don't get handed the "you are Earth's caretakers" message. All told, I was happier spending the weekend watching "Evan Almighty" than I would have been watching one of the "Live Earth" concerts, and I probably left behind a smaller carbon footprint doing so.
"Evan Almighty" is a comedy that the family can enjoy, no matter your faith. Sadly, however, the very nice Regal 18 Cinema in St. Louis where I viewed this one had an audience of me and one other family, as moviegoers chose instead to line up for "Transformers" or "Ratatouille".
Trailers screened at this showing included "Across the Universe", "Veggie Tales: The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything", "The Simpsons Movie", "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep", "Bratz", and "Mr. Bean's Holiday".