So, on Friday night I went to see Evan Almighty, a movie which I had been intrigued by, but didn't quite have high hopes for. Certainly, I can say that it is much better than Bruce Almighty right off the bat. Steve Carrell isn't given space to flex every one of his comedic chops, but he certainly suits the role of the congressman turned prophet dubbed by media outlets as "New York's Noah" after inadvertently emulating the biblical figure, because he is likable yet over-the-top.
Since I have gained further distance from the movie, it has diminished in my estimation, which I was hoping wouldn't happen. But I guess the problem is that I couldn't understand why anything happened in the movie except to place environmentalism high on the list of things people see in theaters this summer. There can only be so many penguins at a time.
I remembered seeing the "AMC First Look" at Evan Almighty a few months ago, which allowed me to expect that the main theme of the movie was conservation and "going green," and I guess if you're going to make a high-grossing movie about the environment, you should do what you can to have a green production, which is what I gather was the case for this movie.
Past the transparent (and valid) messages of the film -- protect nature, love your family, no man is an island -- everything in the movie just kind of happened just because. When Wanda Sykes wasn't being "that" woman in the theater commenting on everything that was happening, Evan's family was being almost unbearably annoying, and the diegesis was being unbelievable. People would have noticed the miraculous nature of the events surrounding Evan's transformation, and would have made a much bigger deal of them one way or the other. And when demolition of Evan's ark full of animals was threatened, where was PeTA making a fuss? Actors to highlight were certainly John Michael Higgins and Jonah Hill, two great character actors whom I always enjoy. Higgins made me want to break out the not-so-dusty Arrested Development DVDs, and I am really looking forward to seeing Hill in Superbad (see trailer here).
One other point which I can't ignore...Morgan Freeman continues to baffle me. Sometimes he looks really helpful and friendly, and other times his snaggletooth is lit at just the wrong angle and he looks terrifying. I guess it's not a stretch to cast a friendly/scary looking person as God, but he is just the quintessential example of the "mystical black man" nowadays. From actually playing God, to playing an angelic/prophetic figure, to voicing God as an eponymous narrator, Freeman seems to have found his niche. I guess the movie doesn't hit audiences over the head with bible as much as it does its main characters, but it's certainly religiously confusing. I took a "Biblical Traces in Hollywood Film" class a couple of semesters ago, which was fantastic, and we examined how films will try to get a biblical message across sometimes even when there is not explicit content. I felt that Evan Almighty was sweet and gave mostly positive messages, though it never quite answered the questions about why God went to such trouble for so little payoff.
Okay, maybe that's not entirely fair. The message there was certainly "do one small act of kindness and you can change the world," but come on. I was expecting full-on biblical flood action. I really wanted to be able to use the word "antediluvian" in this post. Instead, a freaking dam burst. Sure, it probably killed some people, but I mean...the whole flood thing was really just a big tease. Anyway, the most relieving aspect of the movie after the realization that God wasn't trying to punish a world full of sinners, was that Evan's annoying tic was a little happy dance, as compared to Bruce's "baaaaeeeeeutiful" shtick which made me want to claw my own eyes out.
Concusion: wait until it's on HBO a million times in a row.