Summer sequel-fest continues with this slightly different take on the form. Normally, a sequel takes the same characters and similar plot and continues the story. Now we have a minor character from 2003s Bruce Almighty, Evan Baxter, put into a totally different story that’s very much the same. And so we have Evan Almighty, a weird little non-sequel which left out the main thing that made the first such a delight, humor.
Evan Baxter was a TV anchorman, but 3-years later he’s a US Congressman. All he wants is to have a successful career, and to squeeze in time to bring his family closer together. Luckily God has a plan in mind for fixing the family. Sacrificing the career, Evan is tasked with becoming a modern-day Noah and building an ark of epic proportions. Quite why God has picked Evan is never clearly explored, in fact that much coherency is tossed to the wayside in favor of one-liners, uninspired sight-gags and more animal humor that you can shake one of several hundred tails at.
Biblical parable aside, the best joke this film can muster is that Evan’s wife is named Joan (get it?). The
Humor and heart of Bruce is replaced with Steve Carrell mugging about doing the same schtick he always does. In fact all of the actors fall neatly into their personal niches: Wanda Sykes as sarcastic assistant? Check. John Goodman as stereotype of southern politician? Yup. Lauren Graham as concerned mom? Done. Ed Helms as Mr. Smarm ’07? Well obviously.
Nothing remotely new, different, or interesting happens in Evan to make it worth anyone’s time. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it takes so long to get to the point of the film that no one actually cares about the ark, they just want something to happen. Speaking of, is God so narrow-minded as to not want to modernize this undertaking a bit? Evan spends a good deal of the film transforming into Noah physically while building an ark using tools from the B.C. days. Why? Apart from the "humor" it creates, it makes no sense. In the first film, Bruce gained the power of God. Following the logic set forth here, shouldn’t Jim Carrey have turned black, if not actually into Morgan Freeman? No, that would’ve been simultaneously stupid and offensive. So why the transformation? Because the Noah story evidently can’t put forth a message without a fake beard.
Evan Almighty has some decent performances from some not-horible actors. But, those performances are engulfed by a weak, boring, unfunny film that chooses not to mine humor from the situation but from fake beards and bird feces. D