Evan Almighty

“Evan Almighty” is a slight and fairly inoffensive sitcom of a movie that milks its preposterous premise to the fullest extant possible, with Steve Carroll as fastidious TV newsman-turned-junior-congressman Evan Baxter. Current comedy-flave Carroll can be funny just walking through a room, and Morgan Freeman is appropriately magisterial as God, who takes Congressman Baxter at his word when he asks the Almighty for guidance. In response, the Almighty drops a load of wood and a box of tools in the neighborhood of the Baxters’ overblown McMansion of a house and commands him to build an ark. And then, as Congressman Baxter does not take the duty assignments of the omniscient and omnipresent deity immediately to heart, a number of hints are dropped upon him, with all the subtly of a hammer mashing a thumb or other body part – which does happen, fairly often. Pairs of animals – large, small and everything in between begin appearing, slithering, flying or trotting, according to their nature. For a wonder, every possible opportunity for a poop joke was not exploited to the fullest, for which this viewer was grateful.

For another wonder, as obnoxious as the character of Evan Baxter can appear to be… it seems that has a genuinely happy family life. His sensible wife, played by Lauren Graham, and his three sons all love and accept him… with some reservations, though, when he starts taking the ark-building all too seriously. But they come to welcome it as a chance for the family to work together at something; and of course, what kid wouldn’t turn down a chance to fill an ark with all the animals that appear in a glorious variety, all in pairs… especially when the animals begin helping to build the ark, too. Most of the budget seems to have gone for animals and special effects. Wanda Sykes, as Baxter’s secretary has all the funniest lines. One might wish that John Goodman, as the conniving senior congressman with an agenda had a little more screen time. What success “Evan Almighty” had in theaters, it works best as a family movie. There are a sprinkling of clever sight gags, of which the halo of fish around Evan Baxter’s head was the most amusing.

Extras in this release include some very amusing deleted scenes; a couple of them could have been included – but not the long dash to rescue the dogs in the face of the coming flood – and the expected collection flubs and actor crack-ups. There is a long feature about the various animals used in filming, and on construction ark itself, plus a game of “match the animal pairs”. It is not one of those all-time great movie comedies of the year, but it is an agreeable enough movie for an evening… and God knows, there are much worse movies out there.

“Evan Almighty” is available from Amazon.com and in retail outlets on October 9.

Sgt. Mom is a freelance writer who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her latest book, “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here, and there is more about her writing at www.celiahayes.com.

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