Starring: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman
Director: Tom Shadyac
Running Time: 96 mins
Evan Almighty is an American film and the sequel to Bruce Almighty. Following news reporter Evan Baxter’s successful election to Congress, he moves with his family to Washington DC, only to be met by God, who tells him that building an ark for an upcoming flood is the main priority.
This film has an infamously legendary reputation as one of the biggest flops in history. In terms of fully utilising a $175m budget, this film fails massively, whilst the script is pretty poor too. Save for the entertaining performances, and a generally light-hearted atmosphere, Evan Almighty isn’t the greatest comedy you’ve ever seen, and definitely not one that merited such a gigantic budget.
Before I get into all of that, however, I want to start with the positives. In particular, Steve Carell’s central performance. As I said, the script isn’t really up to calibre, but Carell does an incredible job at carrying this movie. The likes of Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, John Michael Higgins and especially Wanda Sykes all add to the silly, fun-loving vibes of the movie, but it’s Carell’s fantastic charisma and comedic ability that makes this film a thousand times more enjoyable than it could have been.
There’s one thing about Evan Almighty that may disappoint people, but ultimately ends up not being the worst thing ever. Whilst Bruce Almighty was effectively an adult comedy (and a very good one at that), Evan Almighty is almost entirely a family movie. There are a few adult jokes here and there, but for the most part, it’s on a par with the likes of Night At The Museum for family-friendliness.
Initially, that frustrated me, and I didn’t think there was enough being done by director Tom Shadyac to initially distance the film from its more adult predecessor. However, as the film unfolds, and you settle into its mediocrity, the light-hearted, childish atmosphere ultimately becomes a good point, adding more entertainment factor instead of solely relying on the somewhat poorly-written jokes.
On the whole, Evan Almighty isn’t all that bad a watch, but there are two main areas where it really falls down: the story, and the visual effects. Firstly, the plot really isn’t engaging. Early on, I didn’t care enough about the main character (who was a bad guy in Bruce Almighty) for God’s interference to make that much of a difference, and as the film continues on its way, the whole premise becomes more and more bloated, and more and more unbelievable.
I’m not saying Bruce Almighty was in any way realistic, but it did a good job at making a convincing story, whereas it’s always hard to really suspend your disbelief far enough to believe this man building a huge ark on a local lot.
Anyway, the story isn’t the worst problem, because that comes from the special effects. Although they don’t look all that bad, the way that the movie uses CGI is just painful. The hordes of computer-animated animals do little more than populate the background, and when it comes to the climax of the film, where I can safely say a good 50% of the budget was probably annihilated, it’s an ugly, hulking and disastrous mess, never adding the fantasy wonder that it aims to, and failing to add any extra enjoyment either.
Overall, Evan Almighty is a disappointment, especially if compared to Bruce Almighty. On the plus side, there are a lot of good performances here, and the family-friendly vibe is also quite a pleasant touch, but the poor comedy, story and ridiculously excessive special effects are consistently frustrating to see, so that’s why I’m giving this film a 6.7.