Evan Almighty Tom Shadyac

Evan Almighty Tom Shadyac
Evan Almighty is a concise "little family movie” that only cost $175 million to produce. Steve Carell is charming as always but if you’re looking for the understated brilliance of his melancholy Proust scholar in Little Miss Sunshine or the quirkiness of Michael Scott, you won’t find that here. Instead, he’s doing a watered-down Jim Carey, playing a congressman chosen by God to build an ark and do the whole Noah routine.

The exposition unravels with lightning speed, which is a welcome change, even if some of the supporting characters are lost in the rapid plot development. There’s also an environmental message involving a greedy congressman (John Goodman) who wants to turn a nature sanctuary into a housing development. Morgan Freeman seems appropriate as a God who emphasises positive Christian values that won’t be too hard for secular audiences to swallow.

This isn’t The Passion of the Christ by any means but religious groups are jumping on board to support the broad biblical comedy. Animal chicanery of the Dr. Dolittle variety will have kids giggling and a supporting cast including Wanda Sykes, Molly Shannon and The Daily Show veteran Ed Helms should keep older audiences reasonably amused.

Some sequences owe a questionable stylistic debt to The 40 Year Old Virgin. Director Tom Shadyac uses repeat takes of Carell doing one slapstick thing or another, but not to the greatest effect. Another dubious bit of borrowing is a big dance sequence during the credits. There’s even a throwaway reference to a film called The 40-Year-Old Virgin Mary, which isn’t particularly clever. (Universal)