Evan Baxter, the polished, preening newscaster of "Bruce Almighty," is the next one anointed by God to accomplish a holy mission. Newly elected to Congress, Evan leaves Buffalo behind and shepherds his family to suburban northern Virginia. Once there, his life gets turned upside-down when God appears and mysteriously commands him to...
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Evan Baxter, the polished, preening newscaster of "Bruce Almighty," is the next one anointed by God to accomplish a holy mission. Newly elected to Congress, Evan leaves Buffalo behind and shepherds his family to suburban northern Virginia. Once there, his life gets turned upside-down when God appears and mysteriously commands him to build an ark. But his befuddled family just can't decide whether Evan is having an extraordinary mid-life crisis or is truly onto something of Biblical proportions.
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Forget wrath-of-God stuff. Evan Almighty is pure fluff—moderately entertaining but not nearly the "comedy of Biblical proportions" it purports to be.
Aren't we secretly hoping Steve Carell doesn't make a hit comedy film EVERY time so he'll stay on The Office and won't be lured away by movie fame? Well, Office lovers (like me), take comfort in knowing Evan Almighty is the first big-screen effort from Carell that misses the mark. He reprises his Bruce Almighty role as Evan Baxter, less a blowhard this time around but still just as vain. Having been elected a congressman, the former newscaster moves his family from Buffalo to Washington D.C.—and his mantra is to "change the world." Of course, he doesn't mean this literally, but God (Morgan Freeman) sort of takes him up on the offer, commanding him to build an ark. The why is vague but suffice to say, the request, the ensuing construction constraints, the growing facial hair and the countless animal species who show up on his doorstep two by two all irrevocably change Evan's life.
Evan Almighty might be too silly, but Stevie boy still provides plenty of well-earned slapsticky laughs. In fact, he gets his ass kicked in more hilarious ways than one, whether it's smashing his thumbs with rudimentary ark tools or having a myriad of birds flock into his office and nest on his head (there must have been poop all OVER that set). Carell really does have such a likable personality and can play this guy in his sleep, but he should consider doing something more akin to what he showed in Little Miss Sunshine next (or just stick with The Office). As the Almighty One, Freeman pretty much does the same thing he did in Bruce Almighty—but why should he change? He's God, for heaven's sakes. All the rest of Evan's players support nicely. Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham as the befuddled wife is a perfect complement to Carell's wacky Evan, while Wanda Sykes shows up with endless wisecracks as Evan's executive assistant. John Goodman plays the film's heavy as a corrupt congressman. But honestly, the animals almost upstage them all, as they are wont to do. Watching baboons taking a break from building the ark to down some lemonade with Evan is pretty darn funny.
Director Tom Shadyac, who might just have his own personal relationship with God at this point (or least has a very deep appreciation for animal trainers), has thrown away whatever quirkiness and irreverent fun he provided in Bruce Almighty and replaced it with a more glossy, family-oriented and, er, preachy sensibility in this follow-up. The build up to—and the building of—the ark and its purpose keeps the laughs, albeit chaste, constant. But this isn't a true wrath-of-God scenario, since Morgan Freeman isn't a Deity who is very vengeful; He's more about teaching important lessons about acts of random kindness (A-R-K, get it?) as well as environmental issues. Blah, blah, blah. In other words, Evan Almighty's supposed apocalyptic payoff lacks a certain oomph since a PG comedy can't very well drown the whole world in one fell swoop. Oh well. It's a poorer film for it.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.
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