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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Review: Evan Almighty

Official Website and Synopsis

The last time we saw Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), he was being tormented by rival Bruce Nolan onscreen, live from their Buffalo TV station. But as time passed and Evan has made up with Bruce, he's gone onto bigger and better things. Newly elected to Washington D.C. as a congressman, Evan has left Buffalo, New York in pursuit of a greater calling. But that calling isn't serving in the illustrious ranks of America's politics, but being summoned by the Almighty himself (Morgan Freeman), who has handed Evan the task of building a new ark, much as Noah did before. With time passing by and his family belittled by Evan's newfound realization, Evan will have to do the work that God has given him in what promises to be an unusual adventure for a man who just wanted to serve his country, might actually be serving humanity.

The film is garnering attention for it's rumored $175 million budget. Asked if he feels the weight of that budget on his shoulders, Steve Carell said "Not really. There's nothing I can do about it," Carell said. "My job was done when I wrapped the movie. I feel like I did the best that I could do and brought everything I could as a performer, but it's completely out of my hands. I hope people like it, I hope people go to see it. But I guess I've learned there's no stock in being neurotic about things I have no control over." (Yahoo!)


By Brandon Angelilli

If you saw Bruce Almighty, you probably remember Steve Carell’s cameo as Evan Baxter. You might also remember the scene where Evan was tormented by Bruce on air as the best thing about the ho-hum Bruce Almighty. Evan was Bruce’s rival news reporter and the unfortunate receiver of the god-empowered Bruce’s wrath. Evan Almighty takes that character, and pretends as if the previous movie in which he was introduced never existed. Morgan Freeman is back as God, but the similarities between original and sequel/spin-off end there. Bruce Almighty was a silly PG-13 comedy about a guy gifted with the powers of God. Evan Almighty is a carefully crafted PG family movie, perhaps being the kind of film church groups take their kids to after Sunday school but not for the same reason as The Passion of the Christ or The Chronicles of Narnia. It has nothing to do with Bruce, and I say it’s better off this way.

Bruce Almighty didn’t really need a sequel, and it doesn’t really get one. Screenwriter Steve Oedekerk takes the original movie’s concept and spins it into its own story, which means if you didn’t see Bruce Almighty in advance, don’t fret; skip BA and watch The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Anchorman. The film begins with reporter Evan Baxter retiring from his news career to serve in the public office. He’s just been elected to the United States Congress, so he packs up his family of a wife and three boys and they move to Washington DC. Evan’s wife is the church-going type, so before his first day in politics she suggests he pray for heavenly help. Grudgingly, Evan does, and asks God to help him fulfill his vague campaign promise to “change the world.” God hears him, and decides he’d rather have Evan build an ark.

Soon things start getting out-of-control for Evan. Gen 4:16 is all over the place, he’s followed by animals everywhere he goes, his beard grows out at an alarming rate, and this fatherly old gentlemen who looks exactly like Morgan Freeman appears on his front lawn claiming to be God. As he was in Bruce Almighty, Morgan is simply brilliant as the all-powerful, warm, fatherly, heavenly creator and after a few miracles and some good advice, he manages to convince Evan he really is who he says he is. The film follows Evan around for lots of laughs as he struggles to keep his position in Congress (and not look insane) while God does his best to nudge him back towards getting to work on that ark. Eventually Evan is left with no choice but to start building.

Steve Carell was easily the best thing about Bruce Almighty and he continues his greatness in Evan Almighty. He doesn’t play a jerk this time around but he does bring the funny in a BIG way. Since this is a PG rated film, the best way to be funny is with physical comedy and Steve totally brings it and doesn’t even have to get hit in the balls to be funny, thank God for that.

How about the Frat Pack friends you say? Jonah Hill plays Eugene and is very funny when he’s making Evan and his partners feel awkward. He was great but a little underused, although that could be a good thing since I could see his character getting old. John Michael Higgins is Marty, one of Evan’s partners, and he’s mostly just there to support Evan and react to silly situations. He’s fine for this role but not as good as he was in The Break Up. Wanda Sykes, Rita, is Evan’s other partner and she is probably the second funniest character in the film. She mostly delivers one-liners but the majority of them are pretty damn funny. Molly Shannon has a smaller role but she’s still effective as Evan’s real estate agent, Eve. It takes a while to see him but Ed Helms also sneaks in for some very funny scenes as a news reporter.

As for the other main actors, Lauren Graham is fine in this although she doesn’t seem to have much chemistry with Steve but it doesn’t hurt the film. She plays a typical run-of-the-mill wife type providing support for the family. John Goodman is very effective as the antagonist of the film and his lazy eye really adds to that. He’s a real bastard in this one. The Baxter boys are all average in this one as they do the things kids generally do in these types of movies. No surprises there.

Evan Almighty takes the biblical story of Noah, modernizes it, and then manages to throw in plenty of laughs to not make it feel too religious. The message is obvious but not down your throat or up your you-know-what. I’m not really the religious type but I know enough about the story of Noah to know that a lot of the Biblical story is missing but I don’t think that will hurt the film as it can only broaden the audience appeal. After Night at the Museum did such colossal box office business, it shouldn’t take too much for Evan to do close to similar numbers.

Overall, I was both surprised and highly entertained by Evan Almighty. I thought I would like it but I didn’t think it would be so funny as I generally don’t think of anything from the Bible to be funny. I was wrong and I humbly bow down to the Almighty Steve Carell and co. and praise them for making such a fun film. I loved this film and I think many others will too. 5 solid beer mugs.



Spy Photo Gallery

Thanks to our tipster, Clearwater Kris, we have spy photos from the set of Evan Almighty in Crozet, Virginia. According to Kris, "I was amazed at the size of it. The frames holding the ark are made of wood, but the siding is plastic. It has the same dimension as it is in the bible. Quite impressive!"

In the photos you can see the ark next to the Baxter home, and one of Steve Carell relaxing with costar Lauren Graham. Click for larger versions.


Photo Gallery