Evan Almighty (review)

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Disaster of Biblical Proportions

Well, we can now put aside those vicious rumors about Evan Almighty being, infamously, the most expensive comedy ever made. Because whether it cost $130 million, $160 million, $175 million, or more — reports vary but range into the Biblical — the label is simply unfair. This isn’t a comedy. There is not one single laugh to be found within its meager and — depressingly, for a movie about the Big Guy Upstairs, the Master of the Universe and All Eternity, and all His wrath, and so on — inconsequential bounds.
What it is, instead, is an enormously expensive advertisement for the Noah’s Ark Whitewater Raft Ride, coming to Universal Studios Theme Park for Summer 2008! Yea! Plan now to bring the whole family to Orlando!

I wish I could laugh at that, but it’s not really funny, either. I wasn’t just bored by Evan Almighty, I was actively disgusted that so much money was spent on a film that is so poorly written, and so inconsistent and incoherent that it makes about as much sense as the six-thousand-year-old book written by ignorant goat herders that inspired it. It is — if I, a quite literally (if some people are to be believed) God-damned atheist may use a somewhat faith-tinged word — disgraceful.

No, wait: there is something funny about Evan: it looks laughably, cartoonishly cheap. All those budget overages that supposedly went to working with all those two-by-two animals? If hacktacular fauxteur director Tom Shadyac (Dragonfly, Patch Adams) was going to just plop all those critters — some CGI, some real — in front of a green screen anyway, and seemingly wanted us to actually be aware of the fact that we were looking at cheesy green-screen crap, he could have done that for much less of the other green stuff than he did.

Oh my God — can I say that? — but this is a terrible, terrible movie. Evan, the Steve Carell (Little Miss Sunshine, Over the Hedge) newsanchor from Bruce Almighty, is now a congressman — ain’t America grand? — and he is on a mission to Washington to “change the world.” This is his campaign motto, and it is as hollow as any, though of course the movie does not realize this. Evan clearly does not know what he means when he says the world needs changing and he’s the one to do it, because he requires God (Morgan Freeman [An Unfinished Life, Batman Begins]; oh, Morgan…) to smack him upside the head with the clue lightning bolt to let him know that clear-cutting Virginia valleys to build monstrous Toll Brothers housing developments of absurd 20,000-square-feet homes — like the one Evan and his family move in to — and driving obscene gas-guzzling Hummers are probably not the best thing for the planet. (One wonders how amazingly stupid Evan’s new constituents must be.)

Anyway, God wants Evan to build an ark, because a flood is coming, and I’m starting to think that perhaps a smoting from the Man Himself is exactly what we need, if Evan Almighty is what passes for “inspirational” these days. It’s an arbitrary stew of mindless, knee-jerk pap about being nice to people and kind to animals and stuff — does anyone really need to be told this? No, scratch that: Is there anyone alive and even half breathing who would benefit from such a “message” when it’s tacked onto a $175 million Three Stooges movie about a modern Noah hammering his thumbs and dropping logs on his feet while he builds his ark in the yard? This is the “height” of the movie’s “humor,” and if “writers” Steve Oedekerk (Barnyard), Joel Cohen (not, alas, Joel Coen), and Alec Sokolow (Cheaper by the Dozen, with Cohen) earned more than three bucks apiece for this script, divine retribution is indeed called for.

I have to admit, though, that the heathen in me loves the undercutting of faith the film dishes out, even if it does so accidentally: We’re supposed to pray, thank God for our blessings (as Evan thanks God for his mansion and his Hummer), but if getting a return call from the Head Honcho is a sign of insanity — much of the movie’s attempts at “humor” result from the disbelief Evan faces when he starts telling folk God is telling him to build an ark — what does that really say about what so many people really believe about the existence of a personal deity? What does it say when the film puts this modern Noah on a par with Tim Allen’s Santa Claus: a mythical figure many of us pretend to believe in for the sake of others, but don’t actually accept as real?

But the most damning — goddamning? — thing about Evan Almighty is that it doesn’t even work on its own terms. All the budget-blowing animal stuff, all the pretty creatures descending out of nowhere to help Evan build his ark — yes, seriously — turn out to be entirely redundant. (And I won’t even get into how only the animals with screen presence get invited, lions and polar bears and monkeys and such; there’s no sign of any of the 350,000 species of beetles that would presumably need to be saved, unless God really hates the creatures He created in such abundance.) You might think that polar bears and thousands of other nonnative animals appearing in a Virginia suburb might just convince the scoffing public that maybe there really is something supernatural going on here. But no: the public still thinks Evan is a joke. And then it transpires — in a finale that is one of the biggest, most aggressive cheats I think I’ve ever seen on film — that the animals weren’t going to need saving anyway.

I hope God is getting His agent on the phone. Cuz He’s gonna want His name pulled off this mess.

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Clayj
Thu, Jun 21, 2007 10:56pm

Ouch. Only 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes right now.

How a movie like this cost $175M to make is beyond me… I remember when Aliens was made for a budget of $18M (that’s right… 10% of the budget of this movie) and it was HUGE news that The Abyss cost a whopping $88M to produce.

Steve Carell clearly needs to start turning down some scripts and not accept every movie that comes his way. And I gotta ask: Morgan, why?

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 12:49am

As high as 22%? Wow.

supafaith
supafaith
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 1:10am

May have been a good review beside the obvious atheistic rhetoric you want to sneak in there, my opinion?

Keep your personal religious beliefs out of your movie reviews and maybe just maybe they might be worth a damn.

JT
JT
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 1:24am

The fact that the Noah’s Ark story could be sold as a comedy at all is bizarre. One of the most violent, despicable accounts in a text full of them. Fuck this movie. I hope it bombs.

Shadowen
Shadowen
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 1:36am

The real hilarious part about this?

The idea of God bringing in a flood again is so blatantly against what is presented in the Bible it’s actually blasphemous. After the Flood, God supposedly made a pact that he would never destroy the world in such a way again.

That doesn’t rule out meteor strikes and nuclear war, as I recall, but still…

Josh
Josh
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 1:41am

Yet, there are many religious fanatics who are anxiously awaiting Gods angry wrath! To many, God is not a loving God but one of judgment and persecution

bats
bats
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 9:05am

Exactly right, Shadowen; I was also going to point out that God vowed never to destroy the world with a flood again. Then again, taking Scriptures out of context is a time-honored tradition (these days, at least).
“…you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view..”

Count Shrimpula
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 10:51am

supafaith! Hilarious name! Anyway, I’ve taken the liberty of correcting your comment:

Keep your personal religious beliefs out of your movie reviews (when they don’t coincide with mine) and maybe just maybe they might be worth a damn.

David Duncan
David Duncan
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 11:53am

Your personal religious beliefs are all over your “serious” critique. You are visceral about them and they show throughout your skin. We gained nothing about what we really wanted to know: The movie.

MBI
MBI
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 11:58am

*sigh* Yeah, that’s MaryAnn, our favorite liberal atheist New York homosexual Jewish pornographer.

Layin’ it on a little thick this week, huh?

Rain
Rain
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 12:00pm

Count Shrimpula! thanks for correcting his comment so I didn’t have to. Also, though I agree the movie was terrible (shitty writers that make movies for 4 year olds), it is utterly retarded to call the movie bad because it doesnt coincide with the Bible.

Next time, before you make a comment as stupid as that, Shadowen, think carefully about the purpose of the Movie and what you are saying about it.

greg
greg
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 12:11pm

It’s interesting to note that Biblical stories are not only the stuff of comedy, but that those stories are so logically flawed that even Hollywood can’t make them work.

Maybe this will get the Christian fundies actually thinking: “Hey, how DID Noah get all them millions of animals on one boat? Not to mention, feed them, clean up after them, and keep them from killing each other for forty days?”

Sherry Fraley
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 12:30pm

‘Next time, before you make a comment as stupid as that, Shadowen, think carefully about the purpose of the Movie and what you are saying about it.’

Not sure what that comment is shootin’ at exactly, but I have a strong hunch what the purpose of the movie is. One – Making money. Two – making money, apparently. Looks like the critics are not helping this time, but there’s still a good chance the box office will.

As for the atheist observations, all critics have some insidious bias or another. At least we know very clearly what MaryAnn’s is. I must say, though, I did say ‘ouch’ several times while reading the review.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 1:39pm

Keep your personal religious beliefs out of your movie reviews and maybe just maybe they might be worth a damn.

So, supafaith, I imagine you will be writing to Universal Studios to request that it keep religious beliefs out of its movies, right?

I must say, though, I did say ‘ouch’ several times while reading the review.

Why?

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 1:43pm

Your personal religious beliefs are all over your “serious” critique.

Boy, nothing gets by you, huh? Though I’m not sure what the quotes around “serious” are supposed to mean. Are you suggesting that I am somehow not being serious here?

You are visceral about them and they show throughout your skin.

Ugh. They show through my skin? I should get an ointment for that…

We gained nothing about what we really wanted to know: The movie.

And what, David Duncan, would like you like to know about that I did not cover in my very specific critiques?

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 1:45pm

Layin’ it on a little thick this week, huh?

A $175 million movie about a Bible story? I’d say Hollywood is the one laying it on thick.

Ken
Ken
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 3:36pm

*sigh* Yeah, that’s MaryAnn, our favorite…atheist…Jewish…

??? Is that supposed to make sense?

anon
anon
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 5:09pm

MaryAnn Johanson wrote this? What a horrible piece of writing for a review.

Jeff
Jeff
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 5:13pm

You truly are the scum of the earth!

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 5:23pm

You truly are the scum of the earth!

I’ll flatter myself enough to take it that you mean me, Jeff, and that you were not responding to “anon” above you.

User
User
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 5:25pm

“it makes about as much sense as the six-thousand-year-old book written by ignorant goat herders that inspired it” … “the heathen in me loves the undercutting of faith the film dishes out”

MaryAnn you are the ignorant one for writing such an article, and as you say yourself, a heathen. I will pray for you.

Google
Google
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 5:28pm

ended up here from a google news link…. note to self… never go to flickfilosopher.com again

Clayj
Fri, Jun 22, 2007 7:38pm

Wow, this review’s generating almost as much heat as your Knocked Up review did, MaryAnn.

It seems to me that praying for an atheist is not too far removed from what John did to Balthazar in Constantine when he began to give Balthazar (a demon) last rites so that he’d go to Heaven… an unpleasant prospect for a demon. After Balthazar told John what he wanted to know, John told him, “You have to ask for forgiveness.” It can’t be forced on anyone.

GoodMV
GoodMV
Sat, Jun 23, 2007 12:17am

This is one of the worst reviews I’ve ever read. The movie was full of laughter and even had people clapping at the end.

The is why the only people that can review movies are ourselves. This person obviously doesn’t know comedy.

1stVisit
1stVisit
Sat, Jun 23, 2007 3:39am

Sometimes I am lazy, formulaic, cowardly and wasteful with cheap capital, so I can’t fault HOLLYWOOD for that…So thank you for doing it!

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Sat, Jun 23, 2007 1:32pm

MaryAnn you are the ignorant one for writing such an article, and as you say yourself, a heathen. I will pray for you.

My laugh for the day! Thank you, user!

christian
christian
Sat, Jun 23, 2007 7:17pm

those that don’t beleive in god have the i will be so hard in life and do what it takes to succeed in life attitude and feel no remorse for the lack of respect they have for others

thankfully alot of people that don’t believe in god believe in karma and universal law.

bad movie i agree

Stephanie P
Stephanie P
Sun, Jun 24, 2007 7:40am

Why are (apparently) religious types so offended by your review? Are they so upset by your “intolerance” toward Christianity that they feel that being intolerant in return will somehow rectify that? I guess “turning the other cheek” has gone out of fashion, along with forgiveness, charity, and the ability to embrace other points-of-view. But I suppose demonstrating understanding and empathy and an ability to participate in constructive (if argumentative) discourse aren’t exactly part of the Christian way of life nowadays. But I’m praying for someone to prove me wrong; someone besides Jesus.

I think we should all ask ourselves, What Would Jesus Do? Would he approve of Evan Almighty, with its corporate mish-mash, coarse materialism, and its intention to deaden the film sensibilities of its audience so as to produce a profit?

If you’ve lost any readers because of it, good riddence.

Josh
Josh
Sun, Jun 24, 2007 7:33pm

Stephanie- I don’t agree with a lot of the religious fanatics in here, but you can understand why they would be upset by MaryAnn’s review. Statements like the film, “makes about as much sense as the six-thousand-year-old book written by ignorant goat herders that inspired it,” is going to upset people.

JT
JT
Sun, Jun 24, 2007 8:41pm

Truth hurts.

Josh
Josh
Sun, Jun 24, 2007 9:45pm

Well, I certainly don’t agree but that’s the beauty of this country. You can say what you want and, unless there’s someone who wants to infringe on your right to free speech, you can say it. My only problem is that this site is advertised as a site for film criticism, not social, political or religious commentary

Shadowen
Shadowen
Mon, Jun 25, 2007 2:12am

“Next time, before you make a comment as stupid as that, Shadowen, think carefully about the purpose of the Movie and what you are saying about it.”

Fact remains, if you go by the literal presentation in pretty much every version of the Bible, God promises not to destroy the Earth with a flood again (Genesis 8:21). The premise of the movie, therefore, is a blasphemy. And, with the wacky way religion works, it doesn’t matter if it’s intended for comedy, ’cause it’s still blasphemy.

Not that I really give two tugs of a dead dog’s cock either way. I’m agnostic. I just think it’s funny.

Sherry Fraley
Mon, Jun 25, 2007 7:25am

MaryAnn asks why I said “Ouch” a few times while reading her review. It was in sympathy for the nails being hit on the head and then slapped sideways.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Mon, Jun 25, 2007 11:42am

My only problem is that this site is advertised as a site for film criticism, not social, political or religious commentary

I’ll say it again: Movies don’t exist in a vacuum.

And I kinda figured the “filosopher” stuff offered something of a hint that some deeper criticism beyond “It rocks!” or “It sucks!” would be occuring here.

That said, Josh, do you seriously imagine that the reviews of other critics AREN’T influenced by their social, political, and religious beliefs? Or do you just like to pretend that they aren’t?

bonnie-ann black
Mon, Jun 25, 2007 1:03pm

>>The premise of the movie, therefore, is a blasphemy. And, with the wacky way religion works, it doesn’t matter if it’s intended for comedy, ’cause it’s still blasphemy.

Jason
Jason
Mon, Jun 25, 2007 3:25pm

Wow, everyone needs to tone down the indignation a notch or two.

Surprise! Its a kinda crappy movie about a biblical story. It isn’t the first time, it won’t be the last time, and it won’t be the worst example.

Shrug and move on.

Josh
Josh
Mon, Jun 25, 2007 8:20pm

MaryAnn, I used to be a newspaper critic myself. I would slip social commentary into my reviews sure. It just seems like you intentionally are trying to push buttons recently. If that’s your thing, go ahead and do it. When I was writing I was always under the impression that if I was trying to make some grand statement, when I would try to do, it would be labeled a commentary or essay, not a review. I wrote an essay for the paper I used to work for praising Birth of a Nation on Martin Luther King Day. It was basically me explaining that the film had a lot to offer in terms of exploring this countries corrupt past and that, unless we examine it, we won’t learn from our mistakes.

When people come to the site expecting film criticism though, I can see why some people get angry when they see their religious or political affiliations attacked. Those people have the choice of not coming to the site though. I on the other hand am someone who can accept someone else’s opinion but won’t shy away from debating it with them.

Tonio Kruger
Tonio Kruger
Mon, Jun 25, 2007 9:22pm

“six-thousand-year-old book written by ignorant goat herders.”
–MaryAnn Johanson

Hey, some of my friends are ignorant goat herders, or at least descended from them…

“Truth hurts.”
–JT

Truth scars.
Truth wounds and mars…
any heeart…

But, hey, enough with the Nazareth songs. ‘Cause after all, what does Nazareth have to do with the Bible, anyway?;-)

And if we start inquiring into the nature of truth…well, we Bible readers all know what happened to the rep of the last Biblical character to ask the question, “What is truth?”

Anyway, judging from the reaction this review is getting, one would think that MaryAnn was reviewing the Passion. She isn’t.

She’s just commenting on a silly movie, not “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

And personally, I find Tom Shadyac’s attempt to justify this silly movie on the grounds that he is a Christian more blasempheous than anything MaryAnn has written on this site.

But then I’m biased.

“I don’t want to spread any blasempheous rumours…”

Shadowen
Shadowen
Tue, Jun 26, 2007 12:23pm

“blasphemy” implies a basic belief in the idea being mocked.

Nope. Blasphemy can be committed just as, if not more, easily by nonbelievers as by believers. That’s the whole point of blasphemy: it’s a shorthand for “this person, believer or not, cruelly or not, seriously or not, has mocked, derided, or questioned our faith”. You’re thinking of heretics.

BZero
Tue, Jun 26, 2007 2:09pm

hmm… how dare you mention religion in a movie “inspired” by religious tripe? For shame, MaryAnn. *grin*

I love your reviews, and it’s always entertaining when you stir up the ignorant. =^)

*makes popcorn… comment sections are often more fun to watch than the movies themselves…*

D-bo
D-bo
Tue, Jun 26, 2007 9:41pm

I am not a big fan of El-Bible, but I bet 20 of you could not write anything near that detailed and in-depth; even if you didnt have to stick to scientific laws. Also, Atheism is retarded. What did the atom that started the Universe come from?

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Tue, Jun 26, 2007 10:09pm

I bet 20 of you could not write anything near that detailed and in-depth

Check out the fantasy section of your local Borders, D-bo. Even with all the crap on the shelves there, half of it is still more “detailed” and “in-depth” than the Bible. And more internally consistent, too.

Hey, some of my friends are ignorant goat herders, or at least descended from them…

I’m sure most of us are descended from ignorant goatherders. We’ve left aside most of the rest of their culture — I can’t wait till we leave this stuff behind, too.

When people come to the site expecting film criticism though, I can see why some people get angry when they see their religious or political affiliations attacked.

Oh, boo hoo. Life isn’t kindergarten where everyone can expect to have all their notions about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy coddled. Those who live by these superstitious Bible stories still dominate our culture. If they can’t stand to hear a little bit of what the minority thinks once in a while, I have absolutely no sympathy for them.

william shakespear
william shakespear
Tue, Jun 26, 2007 11:41pm

In trying to formulate an answer to, “Did
you really like EVAN ALMIGHTY?”, I
feel like Chief-Justice Roberts trying to
justify the prohibition on medical-marijuana;
First technically speaking, I’ll assume we all
know that in order for a picture to be offcially certfied a ‘comedy’ in Hollywood it must have at
least one Ben Stiller cameo. So the question is moot. Second, ours it not to reason why. This is
a crucial time of year for the movie biz so I’d
recommend seeing LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD! It has
everything but your 10 dollars. Court’s adjourned.

bonnie-ann black
Wed, Jun 27, 2007 2:18pm

“blasphemy” implies a basic belief in the idea being mocked.

>>Nope. Blasphemy can be committed just as, if not more, easily by nonbelievers as by believers. That’s the whole point of blasphemy: it’s a shorthand for “this person, believer or not, cruelly or not, seriously or not, has mocked, derided, or questioned our faith”. You’re thinking of heretics.

Ken
Ken
Wed, Jun 27, 2007 5:30pm

Also, Atheism is retarded. What did the atom that started the Universe come from?

And where did your god come from?

fortunately, the US Constitution still protects me from punishment as a heretic

for now…

william shakespear
william shakespear
Wed, Jun 27, 2007 6:22pm

Yes, rock evolved from molten goo. Then

around 6000 years ago the management at

WAl-MART (tectonics dept.) moved them around

to look purty. Those are facts. I scoff at

peoples ignorence! Also rap evolved

from R&(urban)B…Point being,

give Pontiac a chance to

win your heart in ’08.

william shakespear
william shakespear
Wed, Jun 27, 2007 7:12pm

As I understand it, atoms often mostly are
composed of vast empty space’s that minute
charged particles populate, except when being
crushed by gravity of unimaginable power [e.g.
black holes]. At singularity all the atoms in
the known universe are packed tightly together.
Then it’s detonation- dust/gas/heat/radiation as
the process begins anew with gravity coalesceing these particles again into stars & planets.

The real wonder of the universe is infinity.
There was no beginning and there will be no end
to time or to space. We can measure height/width/
depth & time, but infinity is a dimension that
can never be fully quantified. Awesome yes, but
it’s no Will Smith movie.

Clayj
Wed, Jun 27, 2007 8:01pm

William, sorry to burst your bubble, but the Universe we live in is not infinite in size. How do I know this?

Because the sky is black at night.

Think about it: If the Universe were infinite in size, every possible sightline into the night sky would encounter a star at some distance, and the entire sky would be white with starlight. That this is not the case, and that only a small fraction of the sky is white with starlight, shows that there are a finite number of stars.

Not to mention, we know (or at least theorize with a high degree of confidence) how far away the most distant observed objects are, based on their red shift as they recede from us at near light-speed due to the expansion of the Universe. It’s a simple matter of mathematics to trace the size of the Universe through time.

Look up Olbers’ Paradox when you get a chance.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Wed, Jun 27, 2007 9:34pm

Of course, we’re all living in the Matrix, anyway, and the sky is what our robot overlords want it to be.

Mark
Mark
Thu, Jun 28, 2007 7:23pm

Quoth william shakespear:

infinity is a dimension that can never be fully quantified.

Infinity is actually neither a dimension nor a number; it’s a limit. Think of it that way and it it’s much easier.

As far as Obler’s paradox goes, I don’t find it particularaly compelling; it requires a number of assumptions — limitless space, a limiless number of stars, limitless time for light to propagate. It’s far more convincing to argue (as you point out) that we have good empirical reasons to believe in a finite (if unbounded) universe, and to discard other cosmological models in the interest of parsimony.

My dinosaur-era alt.atheism principles require me to feed the troll:

Atheism is retarded. What did the atom that started the Universe come from?

Atheism isn’t a belief about cosmological origins, or, in fact, about anything aside from the existence of deities. Most atheists would probabaly opine that ultimate cosmological questions like that are open to scientific inquiry, although they may in practice be unverifiable. Some atheists might feel that the question is irrelevant or meaningless; that’s certainly the stance that Buddha seemed to take. In any case, the absence of a consensus on an answer is no more an argument against the atheist stance than anything else we don’t know. (“I don’t know some stuff, so God exists” is the well-known “God of the gaps” fallacy, and it has only waned in persuasiveness over the centuries).