Evan Almighty (2007)

It always takes some work to build a sequel that is better than the original (but few are even as good as in the end). The goal of Evan Almighty was to further the story of Bruce Almighty, and the original title of this film was Bruce Almighty 2. While Morgan Freeman reprises his role as God, the comedy of the original was mostly provided by Jim Carrey, who does not return for this sophomore effort of the Almighty franchise. Instead, Steve Carrell, who was only a minor player in Bruce Almighty, is the comedic engine this time out, and it's pretty clear that he's more than a few cylinders short of Jim Carrey's V10 comedic power.

The premise is actually pretty clever. Carrell is Evan Baxter, a family man who arrives in Washington DC as a newly elected congressman with the self appointed manifesto of changing the world. His wife Joan is ably portrayed by Lauren Graham, although she wasted her time with this film. One day, Evan is given the task by God to build an ark in his Virginia housing development. Reprising the Biblical story of Noah, at first he resists, then he reluctantly proceeds as his family and neighbors look on at someone in need of psychiatric inpatient therapy. You know, the whole prophet not believed in his own time thing. His family eventually comes on board as the animals line up two by two, and the onlookers heckle even louder. This modern twist on a well known ancient tale should have proven fertile ground for plenty of comedy and plot.

Instead, Evan Almighty injects another superficial story on top of this timeless tale. They put Goodman in as crooked Congressman Chuck Long who attempts to get the freshman Evan to sponsor his bill that caters to big business. This turns into an utter sideshow as the attempts at humor are summer campish with doses of bird droppings and groin trauma are way overutilized, and not even funny in the end. Add in characters, that aside from Evan, are fairly unidimensional, and you can see why this film was made for ten year olds only.

While considerable effort and expense went into building a 450 foot ark in a Virginia housing development under construction, this is all undone by subpar special effects once the ark is underway. It's always a challenge to do waves and water with computer animation, but a decade after Titanic, and how many generations later of computer hardware and software, I would expect something to look a lot more convincing than Super Nintendo level graphics.

While there were a few details, like the Ark Building For Dummies book, that could have almost redeemed this film, in the end, they don't. There's too many cliche's, not enough depth, and you can see everything that's going to happen from a mile away. Unfortunately, the acting talent was wasted on Evan Almighty, and I really wish that it was simply a totally different film.

Overall Grade: C+

Reviewed by Jonas

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