Evan Almighty signals a passing of the torch, as Tom Shadyac’s follow-up to his 2004 Jim Carrey vehicle Bruce Almighty heralds Steve Carell as the new face of big-screen comedy. As proven by the plummet of Carey’s box-office star, it’s a station not easily maintained, and one that necessitates far better—and funnier—films than this toothless bibilical-themed sequel, which shifts its attention toward Bruce Almighty’s weasely news anchor Evan Baxter (Carell), now a junior senator who’s relocated his wife (Lauren Graham) and three sons to the nation’s capital from Buffalo, New York. Having run on a platform to “change the world,” Evan gets an opportunity to make good on his promise when God (Morgan Freeman, still clothed in white and acting cheerily smug) appears and asks him to build an ark in preparation for a forthcoming flood. What ensues is family entertainment of the stalest and safest kind, as Evan—a prototypical Carell doofus who’s most amusing when he’s suffering and/or embarrassing himself—fumbles and bumbles his way through professional and animal-related jams while sporting Noah-style long hair and an unshaveable beard. In the process, he predictably alienates the brood he already neglects, as well as jeopardizes a chance to co-sponsor anti-environmental land development legislation authored by one-dimensional villain Senator Long (John Goodman). Evan Almighty simplistically preaches the value of faith, and its overriding belief is that beneficial societal and familial change can stem from “one act of random kindness,” a message which the thoroughly corny film points out has an acronym of ARK [insert groan here]. Stranded by a script whose idea of humor is recurring bird-poop jokes, Carell is left to endure cosmetic torture à la The 40-Year-Old Virgin (which gets a horrid religious-pun reference) and humiliation à la The Office, all while being forced to sporadically perform a dorky dance. The film’s milquetoast banality isn’t, ultimately, his fault. Yet given the frequent climactic cutaways to 2007’s it-funnyman Jonah Hill, one has to wonder if this FX-heavy feature—meant to solidify Carell’s standing as the cinematic king of comedy—doesn’t also subtly presage his eventual successor.
- Tom Shadyac
- Steve Oedekerk
- Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, Johnny Simmons, Graham Phillips, Jimmy Bennett, John Goodman, Wanda Sykes, John Michael Higgins, Jonah Hill, Molly Shannon
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