It’s too lame to be mighty, except in budget that is. At a reported $175 million, the shamelessly juvenile, pseudo-religious, mock-sincere Evan Almighty — an update on Noah’s Ark for Christian-conservative families everywhere — is the most expensive Hollywood comedy ever made. Problem? It’s not that funny. I compute that every laugh cost about $20 million. And most of those of are poop jokes.
Let me back up a bit. In 2003, Jim Carrey hit paydirt with Bruce Almighty, playing a TV reporter who cursed God. The deity appeared to him in the imposing form of Morgan Freeman and told him to try playing God for a while. Lesson learned. A sequel didn’t interest Carrey (wise man), so Steve Carell, who costarred in Bruce as another TV airhead, was coaxed into duty. What luck since The 40-Year-Old Virgin and TV’s The Office subsequently put a rocket under Carell’s career. Freeman also signed on, as did director Tom Shadyac and screenwriter Steve Oedekerk. Any other resemblance to Bruce is purely coincidental. Carell’s Evan Baxter is now a frosh Congresssman with a wife (Gilmore Girl Lauren Graham) and three sons. God is now green, with an environmentalist agenda that includes getting Evan to dump his Hummer, learn to pray, sandal up like Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, grow a flowing white beard, and build an ark with two of every animal — making sure that not one is constipated.
What surprises do God and Evan have in store for evil Congressman Long (John Goodman in full bluster) and his fellow D.C. polluters? I wouldn’t dream of spoiling what feeble fun there is, but when the ark gets its sea legs you may be amazed that the pricey special effects produce so little amazement. The use of real animals instead of computer versions obviously strained the budget. But even five-year-olds will find (let’s hope) diminishing returns in lion farts and bird splatter. It’s Carell who projects the movie’s only sense of mischief. But it’s too little and too late.