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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tom Shadyac
Cast:
Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, Johnny Simmons, Graham Phillips, Jimmy Bennett, John Goodman, Wanda Sykes
Writing Credits:
Steve Oedekerk (and story), Joel Cohen (story), Alec Sokolow (story), Steve Koren (characters), Mark O'Keefe (characters)

Tagline:
A comedy of biblical proportions.

Synopsis:
From the director of Bruce Almighty comes "a comedy you don't want to miss" (Kim Griffis, NBC-TV)! Everyone's favorite funnyman Steve Carell is at his hilarious best as junior congressman Evan Baxter, whose wish to "change the world" is heard by none other than God (Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman). When God appears with the perplexing request to build an ark, Evan is sure he is losing it. But soon mysterious deliveries of wood and tools are being dropped on his doorstep, animals of every shape and size are flocking to him two by two, and his self absorbed life goes from overnight success to almighty mess! It's "a great time for everyone" (Pete Hammond, Maxim)!

Box Office:
Budget
$175 million.
Opening Weekend
$31.192 million on 3604 screens.
Domestic Gross
$100.038 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
English DVS
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 10/9/2007

Bonus:
• Deleted Scenes
• Outakes
• “The Ark-Itects of Noah’s Ark” Featurette
• “Becoming Noah” Featurette
• “Steve Carell Unscripted” Featurette
• “Animals On Set Two By Two” Featurette
• “The Almighty Green Set” Featurette
• “It’s Easy Being Green” Featurette
• “Acts of Random Kindness” Featurette
• “A Flood of Visual Effects” Featurette
• “Casting Call: Serengeti” Featurette
• “The Almighty Forest” Featurette
• “Animal Roundup” Game


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Evan Almighty (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 4, 2007)

You’d think that studios would realize that if you make a sequel to a Jim Carrey movie, it needs to star Jim Carrey. Apparently the studios still don’t understand his drawing power, for they continue to make sequels to his flicks without him.

This never ends particularly well. First came 2003’s Dumb and Dumberer, a sequel to the 1994 smash Dumb and Dumber. The tally? Dumber: $127 million, Dumberer $26 million. Ouch. Then we got 2005’s Son of the Mask, the continuation of another 1994 Carrey hit. What happened? Mask $119 million, Son $17 million. Double ouch!

Undaunted by these numbers, Universal approved 2007’s Evan Almighty, a sequel to Carrey’s 2003 success. It seemed primed to do better than Son and Dumberer - though how couldn’t it do better? Anyway, Evan at least boasted the return of Bruce director Tom Shadyac – himself very successful even without Carrey – and also included Steve Carell in the lead. While Dumberer featured unknowns and Son went with less-than-stellar box office draw Jamie Kennedy, Carell teeters on the edge of being an “A”-list actor after The 40-Year-Old Virgin and other reasonably popular efforts.

So maybe Evan stood a chance of being a legit hit, right? Maybe not. It barely squeaked past the $100 million mark. Sure, that trounces the grosses of Son and Dumberer, but it still pales in comparison with Bruce’s $242 million. Given Evan’s $175 million budget – apparently the highest ever for a comedy – it had to be seen as a box office disappointment.

Not only that, but it’s also a pretty crummy flick! Evan re-introduces Evan Baxter (Carell), the news anchor from Bruce. In the interim, his life took a turn upward in status, as he won a seat in the US Congress. He packs up wife Joan (Lauren Graham) and their kids to head to DC and make a name for himself. He campaigned on the promise to “change the world”, and he intends to deliver – he even prays to make it so.

Apparently his message reaches the Big Fella, as he starts to get weird messages related to Genesis 6:14 from the Bible, the passage that instructs Noah to build an ark. In case he misses the point, God himself (Morgan Freeman) pops up to tell Evan to construct such a boat. Of course, he doesn’t believe this at first, but God convinces him that’s he real, and whether he likes it or not, Evan needs to complete the task assigned to him. The movie follows Evan’s mission and all the complications that come along the way.

Though it may have been a big hit, I don’t think Bruce Almighty was much of a movie. However, it did boast a great premise, one custom-made for the talents of Carrey. What humor it managed to provoke came from his riffing as his character gets the benefit of unlimited power.

This meant that Bruce felt like a movie that existed as something other than product, something that existed because someone figured Jim Carrey playing God would be amusing. Evan, on the other hand, features a story created for no reason other than to make a sequel. I get the impression that the studio greenlit a sequel, lured back Carell and Freeman and only then bothered to figure out what the plot would be.

As such, Evan offers an awkward little tale without a whole lot of reason to be. Why does Evan go from newscaster to Congressman? To fit the story. Why use Noah’s Ark as the basis? Animals are funny, and the concept opens up a slew of visual jokes the movie can exploit.

Oh, and the tale allows for tons of cheap moralizing, Shadyac’s favorite thing in the whole world. This is the man who made the smug, sanctimonious Patch Adams, after all. He never met a simplistic sentiment or heavy-handed message he didn’t like, a trend that continues unabated here.

I like Carell but he’s no Carrey. By that, I don’t mean that he’s less talented than Carrey – I mean that he boasts different talents than Carrey. While Carrey can single-handedly take over a movie and make it at least reasonably entertaining despite its deficits, Carell lacks such effervescent skills. He possesses more of a low-key charm and doesn’t present the same force of nature whirlwind ability to manhandle a flick into submission.

Carell works better either as idiots – ala Evan in Bruce or his weatherman in Anchorman - or as a quiet but likable schlub such as his Virgin. Here Evan tries to meld the two with an utter lack of success. Carell attempts to create some laughs, but there are none to be found in this barren comedy wasteland.

A clumsy script doesn’t help. The movie lacks any basic logic or development, and it includes some of the most awkward exposition scenes on record. Does Evan seem like he’d care about changing the world? Wasn’t he a fatuous boob in the first flick? And does his bedroom conversation about prayer and making a difference sound like anything any real couple’s ever said?

Screenwriter Steve Oedekerk throws in some genuinely odd – and ineffective – references. With references to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and that crying Indian from the anti-litter PSA, I wondered if this thing was written in 1975. Why in the world would a kid today aspire to be like Kareem? How many 20-somethings can even remember Kareem? Other references are just confusing. Yeah, John Lennon had a beard for parts of his life, but is he really the best person to cite for facial hair jokes?

And the less said about the groan-inducing 40-Year-Old Virgin Mary gag, the better. Maybe that policy should apply to the movie as a whole. Tedious, unfunny and wholly pointless, Evan Almighty fails in virtually every possible way.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Evan Almighty appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I guess “enormous budget” doesn’t necessarily translate into “great-looking DVD”, as the transfer of Evan seemed decidedly lackluster.

Most of the issues related to sharpness. Although the movie usually looked acceptably distinctive and accurate, more than a few soft shots materialized. Some edge enhancement impacted these, and the movie’s general definition seemed rather erratic. Jagged edges and shimmering didn’t crop up, and I noticed no source flaws in this clean transfer.

Colors looked pretty good. The movie featured a natural palette that came across with nice vivacity and fidelity. Blacks were also dark and firm, but shadows tended to be a bit thick. Take the shot in which Evan prays; it seemed muddier than I’d like, and that trend continued with other low-light scenes. While watchable, Evan appeared fuzzier than I’d like.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Evan Almighty, it showed a mix of ups and downs as well. Its negatives related to quality, as some problems occurred. The main distraction connected to speech. While the lines were always easily intelligible, they showed a fair amount of edginess throughout the movie. Music demonstrated decent clarity but lacked great dimensionality; the score and songs tended to be a bit flat. Effects were a bit better though still erratic. The thunder and flood at the end added nice low-end, but most of the elements seemed somewhat thin.

At least the soundfield was pretty good. All of the animal scenes allowed for the spectrum to open things up in a pleasing manner. Birds flew around the room in a believable manner, and the smattering of “big” scenes gave us a good sense of place and punch. Music showed nice stereo presence and the whole thing fit together well. The lackluster quality of the audio left this one as a “B-“, but it wasn’t a bad track.

In terms of extras, we find a slew of featurettes. The Ark-Itects of Noah’s Ark fills six minutes, 49 seconds and offers movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from director Tom Shadyac, production designer Linda DeScenna, producer Michael Bostick, writer Steve Oedekerk, construction coordinator Dennis DeWaay, ark construction foreman Michael Crowe, special effects coordinator Daniel Sudick, and actors Steve Carell, John Michael Higgins, Morgan Freeman, and Wanda Sykes. The program looks at ark designs and how the movie created it. We get a good look at the practical ark set, though we get too much hype about the massive boat and less actual info than I’d like. Still, there’s enough meat to make the show decent.

For the six-minute and 26-second Becoming Noah, we hear from Bostick, Carell, Sykes, Oedekerk, Shadyac, Higgins, special make-up effects artist David Anderson, and actor Lauren Graham. The piece looks at the physical transformation of Evan from prissy neatnik to shaggy Biblical figure. We learn about costumes and makeup in this pretty interesting little piece.

Next comes Steve Carell Unscripted. The three-minute and 13-second featurette includes wackiness from Carell on the set. It’s essentially a form of blooper reel and not very interesting.

Animals On Set Two By Two goes for 12 minutes, 50 seconds and presents material with Shadyac, Graham, Carell, Freeman, Sykes, Oedekerk, Bostick, animal coordinator Mark Forbes, and actors Johnny Simmons and Jimmy Bennett. We learn about how the filmmakers got all the animals to work on the flick as well as various cast experiences with the critters. We learn some fun notes about the beasties and the challenges they presented. Who knew bears like ice cream?

In the five-minute and 26-second The Almighty Green Set, we get notes from Shadyac, Forbes, Freeman, Bostick, Carell, and Habitat for Humanity’s Ryan Jacoby. The featurette looks at the ways the production tried to be environmentally friendly. I hope none of the participants got hurt as they relentlessly patted themselves on the back. Hey, it’s nice that they went “green”, but this show is awfully self-congratulatory.

After this comes It’s Easy Being Green. It fills four minutes, 40 seconds with environmental tips from various cast and crew members. It’s got its heart in the right place, but it still feels somewhat smug.

The featurette parade continues with the one-minute and 47-second Acts of Random Kindness. Here we hear from Bostick, Freeman, Carell, Sykes, Graham, Bennett, and Shadyac as they encourage us to be nice all the time. Man, those arms must be really sore by now! How much self-congratulation can one man take?

Technical elements come to the forefront in A Flood of Visual Effects. It lasts seven minutes, 10 seconds and offers remarks from visual effects supervisors Douglas Smith and Bill George, computer graphics supervisor Willi Geiger, associate visual effects supervisor Lindy de Quattro, digital production supervisor Craig Hammack, animation supervisor Andy Arnett, and compositing supervisor Marshall Krasser. The show looks at the creation of the flood, animal animation, and fitting together various pieces. “Effects” is a brief but decent examination of the topics. It should’ve been longer and more detailed, but it offers a fair overview.

Casting Call: Serengeti fills two minutes, 52 seconds as it looks at the “casting call” for the animals. It’s a comedy piece meant to promote the flick. It’s not very amusing. Oh, and it throws in even more self-congratulation about the production’s “green” status. Ugh.

Finally, The Almighty Forest runs five minutes, 59 seconds and features a listing of all the people who planted a tree for a cause led by the production. Again, I can’t criticize the movie’s attempts to help the environment, but I could live without all the discussion of those efforts.

14 Deleted Scenes run a total of 14 minutes, 33 seconds. Most are extensions to existing sequences. Evan defends his Hummer on the drive to the new house, and we see more of Evan’s rampant and wasteful consumerism as the family fits into their mega-home. We also get longer prayers during that first night in the new place as well as a longer look at Evan’s prissy grooming habits.

Further pieces show more “614” instances, a longer shot of Evan with assistant Dorothy on their first day in Congress, a little bedtime talk between Evan and son Jordan, and more of Evan as he tries to flee all the animals who pursue him. In addition, we see more of Evan as he builds the ark and developments at that site. These include Evan’s attempt to save some dogs from the flood that look really goofy since the clip lacks most of its effects; Evan runs in terror from… dirt.

Since I didn’t like the movie, was there much chance I’d find anything amusing about the bits not good enough for the final cut? Nope, and that prediction held true. Most of the bits just offered minor additions to the shots in the existing movie, so they don’t bring us much. They ain’t funny, that’s for sure.

More cut footage comes from the Outakes. This two-minute and 45-second reel presents a fairly standard set of goofs and giggles, though we get a few more improv moments than usual. Those make the “Outtakes” a bit more interesting than usual.

Next comes the Animal Roundup Game. This requires you to answer trivia questions to get the animals onto the ark. It’s actually pretty good as these things go. The questions aren’t the “gimmies” I expected, and a “hint” option proves useful. It doesn’t end with a good reward, but it’s more interesting than most DVD games.

The DVD opens with some ads. We find promos for VeggieTales: The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, The Office Season 3, HD-DVD and Bring It On: In It to Win It. No trailer for Evan appears here.

In the category of unfunny comedies, we must lump Evan Almighty. The fact it’s the most expensive unfunny comedy might make it worse, but no matter what budget it boasts, Evan is a dud. The DVD presents lackluster picture and audio along with some decent but unexceptional extras. This is a mediocre DVD for a bad film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.375 Stars Number of Votes: 16
25:
24:
3 3:
22:
71:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main