MOVIE REVIEW ★★★ Evan Almighty Pretty Alright(y)

Movie Fun For Kids, Steve Carell Fans

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Evan Baxter (played by Steve Carell) realizes that God (played by Morgan Freeman) is in the back seat of his Hummer.
Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Evan Almighty

Directed by Tom Shadyac

Written by Steve Oedekerk

Starring: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, and John Goodman

Rated PG

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To start, let me just say this: Steve Carell is no Jim Carrey. Whether you think that is a dis or a compliment will determine whether you will like or love the former's latest movie, "Evan Almighty." Of course, there is still a chance you wouldn't enjoy it at all, but that is only if you are the type of person who doesn't really like comedies (or life as far as I'm concerned).

The comparison between Carell and Carrey is inevitable as "Evan Almighty" is a kind of spin-off/sequel to Jim Carrey's 2003 hit "Bruce Almighty," which was about a guy (Carrey) who becomes God for a week since God (played by narrator-king Morgan Freeman) wanted to teach him a lesson. In this first movie, a straight-up comedy starring Jim Carrey and his rubber face, there was a character named Evan Baxter who had a few fun moments but was clearly playing a minor role. O how the tables have turned!

In Evan Almighty, not only has the titular Evan become the star, he has also become a congressman. Unfortunately, during his first week in office, God (as Freeman) appears and commands Evan to build Him an ark. While some movies might try for a secondary or perhaps parallel plot, that is really about it for this one. That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but it did add to the scarcity of depth and the general feeling that something was missing. "Evan Almighty" just wasn't as full or fulfilling as the original "Bruce Almighty."

To disclose all my biases, I am a bigger fan of Jim Carrey than of Steven Carell, so I liked the first movie better. The humor in "Bruce Almighty" was zanier and crazier, and I am a big fan of the surrealism that punctuated many of the standard jokes. In "Evan Almighty," Carell's brand of humor takes over, and it is all either subtle almost sarcastic remarks or slapstick goofy reactions and double takes. That is not to say it isn't funny and, at times, even hilarious. The new movie is just a different kind of funny, one which I don't happen to enjoy as much. If you are a big Carell fan, however, you will love it.

Of course, to really love it, you have to be a kid. "Evan Almighty" definitely tries to appeal to the whole family (it even has a PG rating) with the result that there are some syrupy moments, fewer adult topics, and more poop jokes. Like I said, that's fine (I love poop jokes), but it gets a bit old after a while. Even Wanda Sykes, who plays Rita the secretary (or the cooler sounding congressional equivalent), while being absolutely funny and fun to watch, was definitely toning it down for the kiddies.

The rest of the cast is rounded out by Lauren Graham and John Goodman, playing Evan's wife and fellow congressman, respectively. Everyone in the movie did a fine job of acting, and their punch lines and jokes (which everyone got to share) were well delivered; no big surprise, considering all but Freeman have spent considerable time in comedic television roles.

The sets and special effects are pretty, as are the various animal co-stars that soon show up to inhabit the ark.

And as far as climaxes go, you will be hard pressed to find one as dramatic or satisfying as this one, a climax which is somehow both surprising and cliched. Is it a good enough movie to spend eight bucks (or higher) on? Probably not, unless you are part of the target audience of kids and/or Steve Carell fans.