Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Evan" Can Wait | Evan Almighty

The Lord may work in mysterious ways, but the filmmakers behind Evan Almighty (* ½ stars) show no imagination in this modern-day retelling of Noah’s Ark. Even the mighty Morgan Freeman can’t save this tired sequel to the successful Bruce Almighty.

Former news anchor Evan Baxter (Steve Carrell) has been elected to Congress. With a lofty campaign promise, “to change the world,” Baxter is determined to make a difference. But his success at work has created a rift at home between him and his kids as he continually chooses work over them.

One day he receives a mysterious shipment of tools in the mail. Huge bundles of wood also begin to appear on his property. The Lord (Morgan Freeman) appears to him asking him to build an ark, which of course Baxter dismisses. Only when the Lord sends the entire animal kingdom to his work and home, in pairs of two no less, does he finally agree to follow God’s word.

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Baxter is recruited by a corrupt congressman who hopes to use him to pass a piece of faulty legislation. All the while, the once fastidious Baxter is growing a biblical beard and walks around in Old Testament fashion. Funny right? Not exactly.

In Bruce, Jim Carrey was given a much better supporting cast and script. Surrounded by Jennifer Anniston, Carell, Freeman, as well as Carrey’s amazing physical comedy, Bruce was hokey, yet heartwarming and very funny. That film presented a moral dilemma (God giving Bruce his powers for a short time) that is missing from Evan. In addition, Wanda Sykes is wasted in a performance that felt like she had no lines, but was given a green light to insert a joke whenever one was needed. This stripped-down version of the Noah’s Ark tale ultimately falls flat because it relies far too much on Carrell and Freeman – and cheesy special effects.

God is good all the time, too bad the same can’t be said for this disappointing sequel. Bruce truly was almighty, but Evan still needs work.

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