When television newsreader Evan (Steve Carell) is elected to Congress after promising to 'change the world', he takes his wife Joan (Lauren Graham) and three sons (Johnny Simmons, Graham Phillips and Jimmy Bennett) to North Virginia to begin their new life. Evan accepts the invitation to co-sponsor a high-profile bill by Congressman Long (John Goodman) and begins working with his new team comprising wise-cracking assistant Rita (Wanda Sykes), conservative Chief of Staff Marty (John Michael Higgins) and bumbling intern Eugene (Jonah Hill). Meanwhile, God (Morgan Freeman) appears to Evan, commanding him to build an ark in preparation for a mighty flood.
Review by Louise Keller:
While Bruce Almighty was an inventive and often hilarious parable about divine intervention, Evan Almighty is mighty short of laughs. Essentially a one-gag concept in which God (Morgan Freeman) spreads his environmentally-friendly message by forcing Steve Carell's Evan to build an ark, the film is misconceived from the outset. It's not Carell's fault, mind you. Steve Oedekerk's script simply has nowhere to go once the novelty value of the animals appearing two by two has run its course. The filmmakers seem unsure how to handle the tone - playing it for laughs at the beginning, before settling into a Charlton Heston-esque epic, with Carell weighted with long white beard and Hessian robes.
Unlike Jim Carrey's protagonist, there's nothing endearing about Evan, who as a 'clean freak', thinks dogs are disgusting. He may tell his wife that a close family relationship is the most important thing in his life, but his actions speak otherwise. It is hard to believe Evan would be elected or set up in a two-storey mansion, while John Goodman's 'greed-is-good' Congressman is nothing but a caricature. There are a few laughs as Evan is recruited by God, and tools, piles of wood and a copy of Building an Ark for Dummies is dumped on his front porch. My favourite scene is the one when Evan is seated in front of an aquarium; every time he moves, the fish swim towards him, forming a halo-like circle above his head. But otherwise, laughs are poorly lacking.
I have great admiration for the animal trainers who orchestrate the impressive zoo of giraffes, lions, tigers, snakes, spiders, birds, horses, cows, elephants, zebras and alpacas, but it is a wildly expensive exercise with nothing but a gaggle of the cute factor and some fart jokes. The massive size of the visual effects department also gives inkling into where much of budget was spent. But ultimately, we care very little about Evan or the fact that at midday on September 22, the flood gates are due to open. Of course, things don't turn out as we expect, but the ark does float, and the moral concerning random acts of kindness, is spelt out by the heavier-than-usual hand of God.
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EVAN ALMIGHTY (G)
CAST: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, Johnny Simmons, Graham Phillips, Jimmy Bennett, John Goodman
PRODUCER: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Michael Bostick, Steve Carell, Neal H. Moritz, Tom Shadyac
DIRECTOR: Tom Shadyac
SCRIPT: Steve Oedekerk
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ian Baker
EDITOR: Scott Hill
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Linda DeScenna
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 20, 2007