Carell is his usual high-energy self as Evan. He does remain true to his character from Bruce Almighty and gives a terrific physical performance.
The summer of sequels is well under way and Evan Almighty has added its name to the already extensive list of obscenely high-budgeted movies with huge stars, plenty of CGI and mediocre scripts.
This second installment of the “God series,” as some close to the production are calling it (apparently “sequel” has become too stigmatized), focuses on Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), a television news anchor who has hangs up his blazer to become a congressman set on changing the world. He moves his wife, Joan (Lauren Graham), and his three sons to an enormous house in a neighborhood in development and sets his sights on the capitol in hopes of making a difference in the world. Soon, God (Morgan Freeman) appears and tells Evan He wants him to build an ark. This all sounds crazy to Evan until the materials start showing up on his lawn and animals begin following his every move. While he is attempting to wrap his mind around what is going on, Evan is also under pressure as a congressman to co-sponsor a new bill with capitol veteran Congressman Long (John Goodman) or risk losing his job.
It’s hard to say what’s more difficult to believe about the movie: that God would appear to Evan, tell him to build an ark and that Evan would actually do it or that a news anchor would be elected congressman (though, as my wife pointed out to me, an actor and body builder was elected Governor). In Bruce Almighty, the story was very specifically about Bruce and the crisis of faith he was having. Evan Almighty takes the issue on a global scale, but still puts it in the hands of one man.
One thing that is interesting to know about the production is that director Tom Shadyac insisted that the entire production be as green and eco-friendly as possible. The crew planted trees, recycled materials and the whole cast and crew were given bikes to ride around the set instead of golf carts or cars. Shadyac wanted the production to reflect the message of the movie: everyone can change the world by small Acts of Random Kindness (ARK, get it?). This is a rather impressive feat considering all the emissions a set normally emits.
Carell is his usual high-energy self as Evan. He does remain true to his character from Bruce Almighty and gives a terrific physical performance. It’s easy to see, yet again, why he catapulted to stardom so quickly with his perfect comedic timing and deadpan delivery. Freeman is having a ball again as God, doing very little work, more like the guy who graduated last year but came back to hang out with this year’s seniors. As the characterless wife, Graham does her puckered-face best to just stand in frame and not take attention away from Carell, which is hardly ever a fear.
This installment in the series (God help us if there’s another one) is more family-friendly than the first, and parents should definitely feel comfortable about taking their kids. There are plenty of important messages not just about the environment and the planet, but about the importance of family that, though in the movie become didactic at times, are nevertheless important to be reminded of once in a while. | Matthew F. Newlin