Evolution (2001) — Ghostbuster’s kissing cousin?

“Great googlely mooglely!”

PoolMan’s rating: What do you know? You CAN do Ghostbusters without Bill Murray!

PoolMan’s review: Man, I was so up in the air on this one. Evolution absolutely caught my eye when it came out last year. I mean, starring David Duchovny and Orlando Jones (two guys whose comedic chops strangely appeal to me), brought to you by Ivan Reitman (the man behind Ghostbusters), and featuring some great CG creature effects which looked great without being too much. I missed it in theaters, and always kind of kicked myself for it. And now I know I was right to do so (kick myself, that is).

This flick is made out of entirely the same energy Ghostbusters is, and yet comes off as entirely its own film. Duchovny really has this knack for cracking me up with this “I’m not acting” acting style. Sure, the guy’s wooden, but to deliver some of the lines this guy gets with a straight face either takes real skill, or his dog died right before the shoot. He’s perfect. He’s almost Venkman, actually (and if you don’t believe me, get the DVD with the deleted scenes, and check out the hotel room scene with Allison. It’s great). But look at me. A review line and two paragraphs, and I’ve already got more Ghostbusters references than my Ghostbusters review. Get on with it, Pooly!

Evolution takes a pretty standard concept and grows it in a direction that’s been done before, but rarely with this much fun. It’s a reasonably predictable creature flick. A meteor crashes to earth, unleashing a dormant single celled life form which, thanks to the Arizona heat, suddenly leaps to life and begins evolving. Hundreds of millions of years worth of evolution passes in just days. But what starts as scientific curiousity goes bad as complex beasties start springing up and eating the townsfolk.

Enter our team of Ira (Duchovny, as a disgraced military scientist turned teacher), Harry (Jones, as Ira’s oversexed partner at the college), Wayne (Seann William Scott, a goofy flunked-out fireman), and Allison (Julianne Moore, in a surprisingly funny turn as a pitifully clumsy military researcher) to clean up the mess.

Everything about this movie screams improv and little touches. The actors look like they’re having a field day with their lines (especially Jones, with so many great lines you’ll really start to feel sorry for his character). It’s nice to have that level of just goofy fun and energy instead of taking cheesy sci fi all seriously. And believe you me, this is CHEEZY cheese, with a capital ‘Z’. The leaps of logic that you have to take are thankfully watered down by the fact that the leaps you took before ramp you up to each new one. I mean, what’s that whole bit with the periodic table at the end? Buh? But there’s tons of stuff here to love… for some reason, I was cracking myself up on the fact that they’re staring down the flying alien with shotguns they’ve stolen from a mall, and the price tags are still hanging off the guns. That may not be comedy to some, but I loved the little things in this flick.

Now be aware folks: This is a David Duchovny movie. For me, that’s great. For a lot of people I know, they’d sooner have Justin clip their toenails with garden shears and a blindfold. If you think Duchovny’s not worth the couple of bucks for rental, then don’t say I didn’t warn you. But if I sound like I’m complaining, I’m not. The actors had great chemistry, the creatures were clear and present threats without being overbearing, and the dialogue is memorable. This was hands down really funny in a way that I haven’t seen since the Boys in Gray suited up against the Marshmallow Man. And I promise, that’s the last Ghostbusters ref.

There is no Dana, only Zuul.

Damn.

Canuck Alert! Canadian comedy legend Dan Aykroyd (why can nobody spell the poor man’s name right?) takes a turn as the governor of Arizona. Between him and Jesse Ventura, I’m torn on who I’d rather have as my leader!

Justin’s rating: Twin moon rising

Justin’s review: Evolution is a movie made by people obsessed with the human butt. As you well know, if you’re a male, there is nothing funnier in the world than butt-related jokes. I shall neither confirm nor deny reports that I and a few friends once mooned a field of cows on spring break, nearly laughing so hard that the cows almost got us. Later, my roomie in college “discovered” that farts were flammable my junior year, which he used to nearly burn a hole through his bedsheets.

So what is it about the butt, whether it be smooth and firm or vaguely resemble Ed McMahon, that is so humorous? I’m not sure, but I do think it has to do with that little evil kid in all of us who loved the battle taunting scene in Braveheart. Evolution gives us human butts, alien butts, sphincter-related jokes, and shampoo enemas. What a time to be alive.

It may shock you to your very core, but I actually agree with Pooley up there. Evolution was unjustly deemed not worthy of the Ghostbusters mantle by the critics, and the stupid people who listened to them kept shaking their heads through the film going, “Well, this ain’t no giant Twinkie.” Fie on them, fie I say! (The previous insult attributed to my friend Lara, who actually used this seriously in a conversation once) I urge you, give Evolution its own birthright as an individual film, and I think you’ll find, as I have, that it grows on you like a good comedy should.

As with a lot of my favorite comedies, Evolution didn’t overwhelm me with the funny the first time out, but I knew that I was pleasantly surprised. Once I dug its own brand of humor (Ghostbusters meets Men In Black meets THEM! meets many butts), my suspicion was confirmed that this new outing from Ivan Reitman would find a place in my home library. David Duchovney’s quiet yet somewhat unstable Ira has the makings of one of the great antiheroes… and Orlando Jones and Seann William Scott both have their talents to bring to the table (both of which revolve around being loud and smirking a lot).

In its own fun way, Evolution takes the classic alien invasion story, wraps it into a twist, and serves it with the sides of sarcasm and fries. Is good. See it. Blame PoolMan for results, he reviewed it first.

Didja notice?

  • Wayne’s fascinating CPR techniques (watch his hands).
  • Duchovny should go into business selling pressed ham!
  • Behold: the wimpiest army lieutenant in all history!
  • Despite the fact that you clearly see the windshield break andfall out of Wayne’s car when the metor lands, all subsequent scenes show the glass back where it belongs
  • Random funk-outs! Yes!
  • Spelling “Seann” with two “N”s! No!
  • Dude, what the HECK was up with that periodic table of the elements nonsense at the end? Two down, one over, yep, that should be POISON!
  • Keep an eye open during the scene where Wayne flunks his fireman’s exam. One of the instructors is Richard “Bull” Moll of Night Court fame
  • The trio do an endorsement for the shampoo Head & Shoulders just before the end-credits.
  • Ethan Suplee as one of the dumb brothers… he was William in Mallrats, aka “the guy who couldn’t see the sailboat”
  • Every butt reference

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