Readers beware: this review contains minor plot spoilage…
There is something rather perplexing going on in Hollywood these days. Back in the early 1990s, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” cost just over 100 million dollars to make. That movie had it all too: robots, computer-generated effects, blood, a body count, car chases, explosions, helicopters, buildings blowing up, guns, and motorcycles. Again, all of that was done with only $100 million and after 16 years, “T2” still looks better than most Hollywood big budget movies of today. Hell, just 4 years ago, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” was done with about 140 million dollars and you can see that in the final product.
Then comes “Evan Almighty,” an unnecessary sequel to the equally unnecessary “Bruce Almighty” from 2003, which IMDB reports as having a budget $175,000,000. Where did all this money go? Perhaps due to its Christian themes, Universal just didn’t see a problem forking over such a ridiculous amount but do you think Hollywood will ever have the balls to pump $175,000,000 into a comedy relating to the Qur’an?
Regardless, “Evan Almighty” has Steve Carell once again playing Evan Baxter (Jim Carrey’s nemesis from the first film) who leaves his job as a news anchor to take a role as a congressman in Washington D.C. This greater calling has taken up so much of his time, that he rarely spends any time with his wife and three sons (fans of the Noah story will understand this coincidence). He is instead too infatuated with his newfound political career. Congressman Long (John Goodman) sees his dedication and tries to get him to support a bill that would give a giant hunk of land “back to the people” for development purposes that may be a little shadier than it appears. That’s when God shows up.
Since Evan’s political stance is to “change the world,” God (played by the man himself, Morgan Freeman) asks him to build an Ark, like Noah once did in the Book of Genesis in the Bible. Evan, albeit a bit skeptical, finally gives in to God’s request since the animals of the world won’t leave him alone. Pairs of various species show up like Dennis the Menace and create havoc everywhere he goes. This mayhem causes him to get suspended from his job, leaving him no choice but to grab a thousand-year-old hammer and get to work.
Okay, so let’s backtrack for a second. God plans on flooding the entire Earth once again and this is where the film’s budget was spent on, right? Wrong. It’s not the world at stake, like in Noah’s time. Instead, it’s only a few blocks of a suburban area. We as an audience are to believe that “God” (the Christian version of course) would seek the aid of a white politician to build an ark to save less than a hundred white people in suburbia, yet he chose to do nothing about the Holocaust?
An even better question: if only this one neighborhood is going to flood, why would he make animals travel from all over the world to seek shelter in the ark when their homes were never threatened? I’d be pissed if I was that impala who traveled all the way from Africa for no reason. Is God going to give this guy a ride home when it’s all over? Tell you what, just leave your brain at the door or you’ll leave the theater with a headache.
So there is no body count, no blood, no transforming robots, no explosions and no pirate ships sailing the high seas. All we get here are some Christian fables, animated animals and a computer-generated ark. All of this for that hefty price tag? It’s not like the special effects are top notch either. The blue/green screen work isn’t well disguised and the wide shots showing a multitude of computer-generated animals are as well executed as they were in “Jumanji” back in 1995. Yes, that was indeed sarcasm.
Outside of this budgetary mystery (where are you Hardy Boys?), this film is still plagued with disaster. Over the past few years, Carell has demonstrated that he has a real skill with comedy (“The 40 Year Old Virgin” which he also co-wrote) and can also be dramatically brilliant (“Little Miss Sunshine”). Here, Steve Oedekerk’s screenplay just doesn’t give him anything to work with (outside of bird s**t sight gags and slapstick calamities we’ve seen more often than not in better films). There is even a beard joke in this film we heard earlier this season in “Knocked Up” involving a John Lennon reference. I guess we should expect nothing less than recycled jokes and ball-shots from the screenwriter of ”Kung Pow: Enter the Fist” and “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.”