When we last saw Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) in Bruce Almighty, he was Jim Carrey’s hard working smug Buffalo newscaster rival. Baxter has since been elected to Congress, winning on the campaign promise that he would “change the world”. When he asks God for his help, God (Morgan Freeman) not only listens but responds by asking Baxter to build a ark, Noah style. Most of the comedy in Almighty stems from the humorous reactions of normal people (and his family) to Evan’s newfound craziness, animal antics, and injuries he sustains while constructing the ark.
At the core of Evan Almighty’s story is an environmental message, which is hammered down our throats to almost the 10th degree. It’s not that the message isn’t worth-wild, it’s that the execution is obvious and non stop. Bruce Amighty was a relationship comedy, but Evan Almighty is more of a family comedy. The humor is toned down, in an ttempt to make the jokes and situations more accessible. Yet the jokes are somehow still worthy at times. Wanda Sykes provides most of the film’s laugh out loud lines. And Jonah Hill (Knocked Up) turns in a funny supporting performance as Evan’s suck-up intern.
I must admit that surprisingly I enjoyed the film more than I would have expected, as the trailers and commercials didn’t excite me in the least. And I think I liked Evan Almighty more conceptually, than in execution. It’s rare that we get to watch a fable in this post-9/11 world. It’s a type of storytelling that has been lost, even in a world of fantasy flicks like Lord of the Rings. I think there is still a lot of value in this kind of story. And the story of Noah offers so many possibilities. I hope that someone gives Darren Aronofsky the money to make his Noah dramatic epic. It would be interesting to see how this story could be handled when grounded in a dramatic story. But Evan Almighty will have to do for now.
/Film Rating: 6 out of 10