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Culture: Evan Almighty
Monday, 25 June 2007 Written by Henry Midgley
Evan Almighty does almost exactly what you would expect it to do- its a mildly amusing film, the script is not amazing, the CGI effects are often embarrassing, the premises of the entire film are completely impossible, but Steve Carell did deliver a reasonable performance and it is aimed directly not at sophisticated (?) reviewers from Bits but at kids- particularly younger kids who may appreciate both the story and the humour. Having said that the film has bombed in the United States, taking only 32 million dollars in its opening weekend despite original studio projections that it would take as much as 40 million dollars. So is it worth going to see?

Well your reviewer wondered to Leicester Square in a mood of blank depression- firstly like many of the correspondents of Bits of News I view the morning as an optional rather than an essential part of the day- that is especially true when I worked until four in the morning on my footnotes to my PhD. Messrs Rubio, Rubio, Jansen, Jansen and Mounk would all agree with me on this. I was hoping that God (or at least Morgan Freeman who has obviously taken over divine duties in Hollywood) would help.

He didn't much.

The film is a fairly innocent affair with a typically heartwarming message. Its about a News reporter who becomes a Congressman and then God or Morgan Freeman arrives to tell our Congressman that actually he needs to build an Ark and put all the animals he can find in it. He rounds up all the native lions and tigers that live round Virginia and Washington (its interesting when I went there I didn't actually meet any of them- my friend who I was staying with was obviously remiss about showing his guest the diversity of wildlife that inhabited the environs of the Capitol).

There are some reasonable jokes- not too many to over tax the audience but the odd one or two- one particular moment where Evan our Congressman is building his boat and shouts up at the air, some precipitation would be useful kind of sums up the humour of the film, it isn't intelligent but it is there. And Steve Carrell makes the most of his opportunities to extract laughs from the audience. The children I saw it with found those moments quite amusing.

What of the film's portrait of God? I sometimes find myself sitting in cinemas watching Hollywood films which refer to God, things like Dogma and Evan Almighty's predecessor Bruce Almighty, wondering how such theological ignorance can proceed from such a religious society. The point about God is not that he is some kind of almighty charity worker but that he has much more to him than that. The film would have been more interesting perhaps if instead of resolving the plot it had left a Jobish conclusion with God's motivations being inexplicable- it might have taken the film in a different and more interesting direction.

Having said that, that's possibly the issue for your reviewer- you see this film is aimed at being mildly amusing but often the films I find most interesting are films which ask questions. Perhaps that means that your reviewer isn't the target audience for this film. Intelligent humour is not of a premium here- neither are intelligent questions but if you want mild entertainment which will leave your braincells bored but may keep a kid quiet for an hour, then it might be the film for you. It won't awaken your kid's curiosity about the world but it might keep them quiet and there is a vaguely comforting message to the film as well.

All in all therefore I am ambivalent about this film- I didn't find it incredibly interesting but it might be because this is not a type of film that I find sympathetic! The heartwarming message is the kind of thing that a child could see and find useful- but an adult should be viewing more complicated material as should a teenager- this is a film without complexity and without much thought. But there are some amusing moments, the lead actor does well and the animals are cool!

See it if you wish but be aware of what you are going to see!