Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I’m skeptical. I love Steve Carell. I think he’s absolutely one of the most consistently funny people working today. It’s just that I didn’t much care for BRUCE ALMIGHTY, which seemed like a bunch of screenwriters who stopped trying as soon as they got the bare bones concept down on a page. Still, I’m willing to give it a try, and I’m certainly curious to see if “the most expensive comedy of all time,” as this is known around town now, is worth all the coin Universal’s got sunk into it. Here’s our first spy with his report:
Hey Aint It Cool Guys – Below is my review of Evan Almighty from tonight's screening in Roseville! Read your website daily all the time. As a movie geek living here in Sacramento, you would think I go to many early screenings, but Ive only managed to get into a few. So when I saw the telltale recruiting zones at Shoppingtown Galleria yesterday, I aggressively volunteered myself. I got to the theater an hour early tonight. As I waited around, I learned that my screening was the second of the day and it wasn't Transformers or Spidey3; but instead an upcoming family movie. Once we were corralled along the corridor, they told us the movie was EVAN ALMIGHTY, starring Steve Carell. Love him in "The Office" and I really enjoyed 40 Year Old Virgin. Evan Almighty is the sequel to Bruce Almighty, but after seeing the movie, I would really say its a less a sequel to Bruce, and more of a playful offshoot on the original movies concept. While it ties back to the first movie with Morgan Freeman playing his role as GOD, and Steve Carell playing his Evan character again, it really was so much more fresh then Bruce was. The story of the film is a re-imagining of the biblical story of Genesis 6:14, which is that of Noah and his great ARK. The film cleverly starts with anchorman Evan winning a seat to Congress and moving to DC with his Gillmore Girls wife, Lauren Graham and three kids that really look like they could be his family. He sets out to make a difference at his DC job, but quickly gets wrapped into the bureaucratic bs. Before he knows it, he is supporting a bill which calls for the cutting down of some forests, which is led by a pork belly congressman, played by a pork belly himself, John Goodman. Unbeknownst to him, GOD has bigger plans for congressman Evan. In some of the freshest comedic moments I have watched in a while, Morgan Freeman invades Evan's life. He shows up all around him trying to reason him into doing some "work" for him. He wants Evan to build him an ARK, to prepare for a great flood. The jaded Evan, tries desperately to brush him off, but GOD doesn't let him. And in the best pairing of wits, Evan breaks to GOD'S wishes. As the film then unfolds, the amazing Carell, delivers the comedy perfectly. In fact, the theater never really settled down when ever Carell was on the screen, which was pretty much the entire movie. Throughout the movie Carell's physical comedy even surpasses that of Jim Carrey, Will Farrell and Steve Martin. As he builds the ARK, he takes on a hilarious new look with long gray hair and a beard, he dons a vintage tunic and as Wanda Sykes so aptly puts it he looks like a member of the Bee Gee's. While the movie hit its comedic moments perfectly with Steve and cast, the part of the film that surprised me the most, was how big it felt in sheer scope. I had no idea that the film would actually have so many animals, every single freaking member of the animal kingdom made it into the movie. All in pairs of course, and they never simply served as set pieces, they really developed a life of their own, playing off Steve to a tee, especially the monkey's. Then of course there was an amazing CG sequence, that I won't give away, that although incomplete in this version of the movie, transformed this fun comedy, into what felt like a movie of epic proportions. I left the screening tonight completely satisfied; that sort of movie feeling that you get from the perfect blend of great storytelling, humor and action. I walked in with mid-level expectations of a decent comedy. But instead I was blown away by a story that really touches the heart as a self-absorbed guy, finds his calling, not by being a carbon copy congressman, but by learning that life's greatest successes come from the littlest differences we can make in our world. Evan Almighty is a funny, heart warming and impactful film - it is a close encounters of the almighty kind. I think I can safely predict that this film will be the BIGGEST family movie of the year, as it delivers big movie feel, but with an even bigger heart. I hope this is a good first review, and the first of many... AICN forever!
And here’s another take from someone else who was in that same theater earlier tonight:
Hello - I just caught a preview of EVAN ALMIGHTY here at the Roseville near Sacramento tonight. I was a bit confused at first in that this is supposed to be a sequel to BRUCE ALMIGHTY but doesn't star Jim Carrey....it stars Steve Carell who had a small part in that movie (and I believe played an A-hole but in this is much, MUCH nicer...Jesus nicer in fact.) And it must be said -- this thing DEFINITELY works as its own movie. Far and apart from BA...actually even sweeter. However -- I'm sorta skeptical of this whole endeavor - like they just HAD to capitalize on the Bruce $$$$ - but the more this thing went on the more I actually felt just plain IN AWE of what can only be described as THE PERFECT, SHREWD STUDIO BLOCKBUSTER.... Let me break it down into why it works so DAMN well..... Oh and if you din't know - the story is basically a modern Noah's Arc..... 1. THE CASTING ELEMENT - At this point in time, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that the Jim Carey schtick is old. Carell is much more user friendly at this point. Unlike Carrey, he starts normal and GETS manic....so there's room to breathe...and identify. Add to him - Wanda Sykes, Lauren Graham, John Goodman, the gay brother from BREAK UP and that fat kid from ACCEPTED...and its a good crew. 2. THE FAMILY ELEMENT - Artistically speaking, Tom Shadak (sp?) has covered the workaholic/neglect the kids element as a starting point for the character arc. Get a new grrove, dude. I dunno, I guess it works but LAME LAME. However, the Evan character does have a wife and kids to get us emotionally involved (altho - touche, Bruce had ANISTON). BUT, this flick has ANIMALS - lots and lots - doing all sorts of funny, cute things...and there's 2 of each, go figure!!! And I know my niece and nephew will dig in deep for that. 3. THE VISUAL GAG ELEMENT - here is where I think I've figured out the key to Shadak's success - most other comedies do the cutesy verbal joke thing...this guy is a MASTER of the visual joke...and here there is a ton of great stuff...I.E....the beard thing, the animals following Evan everywhere...then the Nude thing! Then of course the whole movie climaxes in the big flood and the sailing of the Arc (which I can't remember how they explain but the entire town is aboard). and finally...4. THE FAITH ELEMENT - power of prayer, saving God's green Earth (and the cute animals), kindness to each and all creatures....this thing is ultra slick and ultra sneaky - scoring where that NATIVITY STORY missed - it plays to people's faith but with jokes! The thing is funny AND moving! HA - ha! Money in the bank, people! The snooty fans of THE OFFICE and bible belters will all dig this thing. I wanna point out one thing that really bugged me though -- the second Evan starts behaving kooky in public, his wife packs up the kids and leaves him. Where's the compassion, I ask you?!!?? But look, the studio folks obviuosly went over this project with a fine tooth comb and cultivated a very clever money making MACHINE. And I enjoyed the hell out of it, too. Be well, PHILOFTHEFUTURE