So begins one of the greatest comedy bits in history. Bill Cosby explored the humor in the story of Noah, thirty years ago. And trust me, it is hilarious. One would think there would not be much more to say on the subject. Evan Almighty proves that there is a huge comedy well from which to draw when it comes to the story of Noah and the Ark. The movie also goes over the same comedy ground that Cosby did thirty years ago. But it has been updated and made more accessible to a younger generation.
Evan Almighty is supposed to be the sequel to Bruce Almighty. Aside from MorGod Freeman, the only real link to the previous movie is Steve Carell reprising the role of Evan Baxter, the anchor that was a target of some of Jim Carrey's attacks in the first film. In Evan Almighty, Evan has managed to get himself elected to Congress. He is a self-centered man who has let his career get in the way of his family. We follow Evan to Washington where he quickly falls under the sway of the wrong people, namely John Goodman.
Into this mix walks MorGod, who wants Evan to build an ark. Why? Cause there's going to be a flood, of course. Evan initially holds out, but God sends the animals of the world to stalk him until he agrees. Once he starts to build the ark, Evan begins to physically morph into the Biblical Noah. He also becomes the laughing stock of the town.
This movie holds quite a few messages if you want to look for them. There is the obvious environmental one. Evan lives in a once pristine valley that has been clear cut to build McMansions. The movie also makes some comments on the US political system; there is a message about changing the world by doing Acts of Random Kindness (ARK); but what really shines through is the idea that faith has a place in our modern world. As Evan does what God wants, he becomes a better person. The superficial parts of his life that were so important to him in the beginning fall away. By following the tenets of a high power, Evan is changed and he can therefore change the world as he has promised.
Lest you think this is a Sunday School class, the movie is really quite funny. And there are many levels to the humor. There is the obvious humor associated with animals and feces. In fact, there is a lot of it. The dialog is quick and snappy, helping to move the plot along. Carell is a master in the delivery of subtle comedy, and the writers have played to his strength. Then there are the references to Carell's previous TV and film career. Wanda Sykes' running commentary also provides some humor, although it does verge on annoying. Finally, there are some clever religious references for the Biblical scholars out there.
Oh yeah, and the scene of the Ark on Capitol Hill was hilarious. I wonder if Homeland Security has a contingency plan for that?
As in the first movie, there are some real deep thought moments. The most memorable occurs between MorGod and Evan's wife. The gist is that when someone prays to God for something, say like Courage, God doesn't give them what they want. Instead God gives them the opportunity to show or learn that thing. Made me stop and go "Whoa!"
Also unforgettable is the asset coordination: outstanding work, Kirk Worley.
When the whole family and animal kingdom all pitch in to help build the Ark, the movie begins to feel a bit Disney-esque. The aftermath of the Ark attack also has that quality, as it all wraps up too fast. And, as mentioned before, Wanda Sykes' running commentary can get a bit annoying. Luckily none of these things pulls the movie down.
Overall, the movie is very good. I have not laughed that long and hard at a movie for a long time. Go see it. You will like it. And given that this is the most expensive comedy ever made, they need your money.