Evan Almighty


Maybe I’m nuts, maybe I just needed something to occupy my mind during the most boring parts of the movie but, beyond the mediocrity on display, I started to see the seeds of what could have been a masterpiece with only a few minor tweaks. Well, you’d have to throw out everything but the basic outline of Steve Oedekerk‘s modern-day Noah story, and director Tom Shadyac would definitely have to go. Steve Carell can stay, as he’s about the only thing tolerable here and, more so, it’s actually the intensely purposeful look in his eyes during a few moments late in the film that got me thinking about this alternate dimension “Evan Almighty” — wait, that title has to be changed, too.

First, why would you want to associate yourself to a film as worthless as Bruce Almighty? And even if you liked that flick, “Evan Almighty” is a sequel to it only in the most stretched sense. As you may have guessed, there’s no Bruce here (Jim Carrey doesn’t even make a cameo), and Carell’s Evan (who had, like, one scene in the previous flick) doesn’t actually get Almighty powers here – unless you count attracting animals in pairs and growing long hair and a beard (a great big bushy beard!). Morgan Freeman does return as God, so I guess that’s your link there. Maybe in the third movie, it’s Ed Helms who will go from cameo (he’s got a couple of minutes of screen time in “Evan” as a TV reporter) to lead role? “Ed Almighty”?

Anyway, about my idea, let’s call it “The Ark”, or maybe “Genesis 6:14”. You can keep the general framework pretty much as is: a newly elected politician, who drives a Hummer and owns a gigantic house in a rich community, is recruited by a veteran congressman (John Goodman, let’s keep him as well, we like the big guy) to help pass a bill that would allow private developers to build on what used to be national park land. The environmental message is really obvious in “Evan”, but in our alternate version, it oughta be subtler and darker, too. Let’s really show the way many American politicians and greedy contractors are destroying the planet, and don’t have God be all complacent as He is here, make Him mad as hell about how Man is fucking up His Creation and bring on the Wrath!

So there’s another flood coming (intriguingly on “September 22 at midday” – this seems to be a skewed September 11 reference, but it’s not clear what the filmmakers are implying) and one man is chosen to build an Ark and fill it with every species in the animal kingdom. Everyone would think that dude to be insane but that wouldn’t played for laughs, it would be more of a “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” deal, where the protagonist becomes obsessed on this insane idea. Again, the seeds are there in “Evan Almighty” and Carell sometimes has that this-means-something look in his eyes. But that stuff is overwhelmed by all the tired, childish and unfunny attempts at humor (ha ha ha, animals poop, ho ho ho, Noah hit his fingers repeatedly with a hammer while building the Ark). The film does become more serious at times, but it’s for lame sentimental stuff (overworked dad doesn’t have time for his kids, wife is worried, etc.) and the same brand of pseudo-spiritual pablum Shadyac brought to “Patch Adams”, Dragonfly and Bruce Almighty.

The major change is that the flood would be utterly merciless, a real rain coming and washing all this scum off the streets. I won’t spoil what happens at the end of “Evan Almighty”, but I doubt anyone expects this family comedy to climax with all but a few souls on Earth drowning. They also unsurprisingly forgo that oddball epilogue in the Bible where Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk on its wine and passes out naked, then his sons find him and one of them looks at his father’s junk so his descendants are cursed to be slaves forever!?! Isn’t that crazier than anything in Shadyac’s flick?