Justin does Evan Almighty

“Is that a llama… with a hammer?”

The Scoop: 2007 PG, directed by Tom Shadyac and starring Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman and Lauren Graham

Tagline: Evan help us

Summary Capsule: Evan builds an ark. Because God told him the flood is coming. This sounds familiar…

Justin’s Rating: Five out of ten plagues

Justin’s Review: If there’s a point of theology that we can take away from the two Almighty films (Bruce and Evan, respectively), it’s that God loves Him some wordplay.  He wears a name tag that says “Al Mighty” and changes movie marquees to say things like “The 40 Year Old Virgin Mary”.  I proved how much of a Bible nerd that I am when I pointed out the “1-800-Go-4-Wood” number on the truck as a “gopher wood” reference (the wood used in the construction of Noah’s ark) before the film made it explicit.  I guess God likes puns as much as any father, really.

God (Morgan Freeman, perhaps the best “God” in any movie I’ve ever seen) returns for a bit of tinkering in the life of newly-elected Congressman Evan Baxter (Stephen Carell).  The lesson is a bit different this time, however.  While Bruce Almighty was about teaching Bruce that God does listen and answer prayers – as well as dealing with humans and their pesky “free will” – Evan Almighty asks a fairly nice guy with a great life to step out on faith and obey because God commands it.  In this case, to build a giant ark in the middle of Washington D.C. suburbia and endure the jeers and hardships that come with the task.

Of course, Evan isn’t so keen on the idea, even after God gives him “Ark Building for Dummies”, and there’s a bit of fun as he tries to avoid this task while his beard starts growing and animals begin to follow him everywhere.  Once he capitulates, his family – wife (Joan “of ark” har har), three sons, sound familiar? – grow a bit concerned that ol’ dad is having a mid-life crisis of the biblical kind.  To his credit, Evan steps out on faith and begins to build… and things get worse and worse.

From a comedy perspective, Evan Almighty has its moments, but is guilty of failing to punch it up even more – and when you have both Steve Carell and pretty much all of the animals in the world, I find it hard to believe that it couldn’t be done.  In fact, Carell mostly plays a nice if bland guy; supporting characters like Wanda Sykes and Jonah Hill get most of the laughs.

From a Bible nerd perspective, EA takes the predictable Hollywood avenue of watered-down spirituality that peters out with God making a lame statement about doing nice things, just ‘cause.  It’s unfortunate that that’s how it ends, because I found the real message of the film to be in Evan’s experience as a modern-day Noah, giving us a glimpse into what it must’ve been like for the Old Testament dude who faced ridicule and disbelief as he followed God’s commands.  The construction and the ark end up being quite impressive, all things considering, and more realistic than nursery toys and books have cutesified them into (Noah’s story is hardly one of happy-fuzzy-animal bliss, but try telling that to baby outfitters, who see “animals” and can’t help themselves).

It’s passable entertainment and certainly family-friendly, but when it comes to trying to deliver a solid message of faith or strike us down with holy laughter, Evan Almighty needs to either crap or get off the ark.

Teamsters... always taking coffee breaks.

Intermission!

  • As of June 2007, it was the most expensive comedy film ever made.
  • The real estate agent’s name is Eve Adams, as in Adam and Eve.
  • Like the studio version of the Titanic, the Ark was only finished on one side. While the starboard side had hull-planking and painted detail, the port side was left rough.
  • Much of the concept of this script and the amazing ArkAlmighty.com project it resulted in is based on the work of author and church planter, Steve Sjogren. At the time the screenwriters were fascinated with Sjogren’s book, “Conspiracy of Kindness.”

Groovy Quotes

Joan Baxter: Honey, maybe God didn’t mean a literal flood. Maybe he meant a flood of knowledge, or emotion, or awareness.
Evan Baxter: If that’s true, I am going to be *so pissed*.

Rita: Why do you sound like Evan Baxter but look like a Bee Gee?

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