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Evan Almighty: A Random Act of Something, Anyway

In my opinion, Evan Almighty gets a "K" for "kinda." It's kinda funny, kinda cute, kinda cool to look at. The premise is comical: What issues would a modern-day Noah face when he's called upon to build an ark? And the cast is exceptional: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Wanda Sykes, Lauren Graham, John Goodman, John Michael Higgins — the list continues, and each of them does a fine job. The execution of the funny premise with the funny people, however, feels clunky and weird.

The story is this: Evan Baxter is a new Congressman on Capitol Hill who drives a Hummer, thinks animals are dirty and brushes aside environmental issues. Once settled in DC, however, he's approached by God (Morgan Freeman) to build an ark because there is a flood coming. Evan resists at first but God keeps at him, basically forcing him out of his job and into building the ark. Evan's wife and three sons are skeptical at first, but eventually come around to support him. The animals gather at Evan's house in pairs and the flood comes. But lo, there's more to behold, so

There are cultural references that adults will enjoy, and the animals and physical humor will delight kids. Yet, it feels like something is missing all around. There isn't quite enough adult humor for it to be satisfying for grown-ups, but I think if I were a kid I'd be bored by the many slow-moving Capitol Hill scenes having to do with government legislation.

It's a pity this may be the most expensive comedy ever made because though the animals are adorable (I have "Monkeys are awesome!!!" written in my notes) and the CGI flood was impressive (though I couldn't stop thinking about the last time we watched up-close as a huge flood destroyed houses, which was during Hurricane Katrina), I'm not convinced the outcome was quite worth all the trouble.

There is also this element of, well, preachiness that surprised and confused me. For example, God says to Evan "You learn to change the world one act of random kindness at a time." But this is after God has begun forcing (seriously, forcing) Evan into building the ark — and the ark-building itself is certainly not random. Furthermore, we never see Baxter doing acts of random kindness. Ever. But if you can overlook a holey (ha ha) script, if you love these cast members and if you need a summer movie that most of the family will kinda enjoy, Evan Almighty is for you.


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