Friday, May 16, 2008

Evan Almighty DVD Movie Review

Rated PG, Directed by Tom Shadyac, Starring Steve Carrel, Lauren Graham, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman. 2007.

“The LORD works in mysterious ways.” Evan Almighty supports this non-Biblical saying in a very funny fashion. Just so you know where I cam coming from, I am theologically conservative and am always concerned about how Believers are portrayed in movies. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this Hollywood film, but I am pleasantly surprised to find it enjoyable on a just-a-movie level, and to see positive examples of outrageous acts of faith.

You may remember Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) from Bruce Almighty as Bruce Nolan’s (Jim Carrey) job rival. Baxter is a newscaster from Buffalo, New York, who wins a seat in the US Senate. He moves his wife Joan and three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japeth Dylan, Jordan, and Ryan, to suburban Virginia, outside D.C. The family is so excited they even pray. The wife (Lauren Graham), nervous about how much time Evan will spend on his new job, prays for the family to grow closer. Evan prays for God to help him fulfill his campaign slogan: “Change the World.” Evan, like most of us, just expects a little unseen nudge from above to make things go smoothly. His prayer does not get answered the way he expected. Neither does Joan’s.

From his first day in the Senate, Baxter is favored by bigwig Senator Long (John Goodman) and his career looks great. Plans go awry when God (Morgan Freeman) reveals to Evan that he needs to build a boat. Not just any boat, a 450 foot long Ark. Baxter is your standard reluctant hero. But, animals start following him. His beard grows rapidly. Soon it’s a not really a choice between God or a comfortable life. Don’t worry, God does not break his promise and flood the world again. But there is a reason for the Ark.

Don’t think of this as a sequel to Bruce Almighty,think of it as a companion movie. Carell’s humor is not as broad as Carrey’s. The movie is appropriate for families and non-offensive to Christians or Jews.

The biggest problem in the movie happens right off the bat. Carell does not seem like the kind of guy who could win a Senate seat in New York. His character is a driven perfectionist, and a newscaster may be popular enough to win. So, for the sake of the rest of the movie, just let that pass.

Morgan Freeman is an inspired choice for God (pun intended). One has to have a certain gravitas to play God. A generation earlier James Earl Jones would have played the part. Much biblical wisdom about obedience is dispensed. It’s good to remember Psalm 110:10 and Proverbs 9:10 going in: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

The movie is funnier than expected (unless you are expecting Jim Carrey funny). Of course, I don’t have high expectations for most current comedy. Not that I’m nostalgic for some “good-old-days.” Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions. Ecclesiastes 7:10 (New International Version) Most new comedies are coarse and lack wit. Many seem like a series of sketches put together, rather than a story with humorous situations arising out of the storyline that builds to a climax. The climax here is ridiculous, but keeps with the spirit of the tale.

Evan Almighty has some cleverness. Pay attention to the names of the wood company and the real estate lady, though her name has no significance the way the wood companies does.

You’ll find Evan Almightysomewhat predictable (especially if you know the Noah story), but an enjoyable ride.

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