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  Publicity Stills of "Evan Almighty"
(Courtesy from UIP)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Tom Shadyac
Cast: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Wanda Sykes, Lauren Graham, Jimmy Bennett, John Goodman, Steve Oedekerk, John Michael Higgins, Molly Shannon, Jonah Hill, Ed Helms
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.evanalmighty.com

Opening Day: 30 August 2007


Newly elected to Congress, Evan leaves the city of 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 midlife crisis or is truly onto something of Biblical proportions…

Movie Review:

What happens when you take a biblical story of mythic proportions and transposed it to modern-day America? Try lots of press, sneering Congressmen, the generally skeptical public and a disbelieving family – yup, you guessed it, it’s the Iraq invasion all over again!

Just kidding, really. Evan Almighty, the supposed sequel to Bruce Almighty, has Steve Carrell of The 40 Year Old Virgin fame (watch for the priceless insider joke on this one) playing God’s reluctant minion instead of Jim Carrey. Not that it’s a bad thing since surprisingly this sequel has very little to do with the original except for Morgan Freeman reprising his role as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink-type God. Besides, Carrey probably declined doing the sequel since he freaked out on animals way back in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – and plenty of animals this film does offer.

Heady from his new win as Congressman where he recklessly vows to “Change the world”, Baxter moves into a spanking new house with his family in the middle of what seems to be an ultra-posh residential development project. However, he finds himself unable to shake off an unwelcome visitor – the Almighty himself. Ominously predicting a Great Flood Event that is imminent, God makes Evan tetchy by dumping a huge pile of wood at his doorstep, and then siccing all his creations onto him, making Evan’s life a living hell. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Evan has little choice but to agree to God’s bidding, which is to build an Ark (guided by directions from “Ark-Building For Dummies”) together with his family and to convince all of humankind to come aboard before they perish in agony.

I don’t know about back then, but sniggering neighbours still do affect you whether you exist in biblical times or in the present-day. Evan gets derided as the neighbourhood looney, being called names like “New York’s Noah” and “The Crazy Man With A Beard”, growing into his role as the disregarded naysayer with hilarious results, thereby displaying the fact that the Almighty, too, can have an acerbic sense of humor. While the plot is bone-thin, the premise alone provides ample fodder for hilarious visual gags and an abundance of witty one-liners, which screenwriter Steve Odekerk (of the insanely asinine Kung Pow: The Legend fame), much to his credit, manages to pull off with maximum panache and minimum tackiness.

A word of warning, however – while the dialogue may get the audience giggling at times, this does not make up for the degree of suspension of disbelief that the movie requires. While it seems incredible enough that Evan, his wife and three hyperactive sons are able to build an Ark of biblical proportions, I had real difficulty buying the bit about the animals. The movie takes place somewhere near Washington D.C., so the appearance of lions, pandas, polar bears, tigers, giraffes and elephants do take a bit of explaining, unless there was a massive zoo break-out in the vicinity. Lastly, the truly awful CGI shots of the flood of also help in destroying any vestiges of respectability this film might hope to earn, thereby proving that if you want to tackle a serious subject matter albeit in a comedic light, try budgeting more for your special effects than the producers of Jumanji.

While Evan Almighty probably won’t rank up there as one of this year’s best offerings, and we certainly won’t be hearing of it come Oscars season, it does throw up some interesting questions about the human condition if you actually bothered to think about it enough. With two millennia of history behind us, have we really evolved as a species? If Jesus were to come back today, would we not still leave him to die on a cross? Perhaps that’s really too much to read into a lame sequel that would probably disappear from our collective memory in the time it takes for you to reach home from the cinema, but with fluff this light passing off as comedy screening, you really have little choice but to allow your mind to wander a little.

Movie Rating:

(Hollywood must be really running low on inspiration if this biblical fable about a modern day Noah is anything to go by)

Review by Ninart Lui


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