God returns to the big screen, and this time he wants Evan Baxter to build an Ark.
Evan Almighty is the sequel to Bruce Almighty, and picks up Evan’s story as he embarks on a political career in Congress. Evan’s (Steve Carell) self-centred self-serving world is about to implode after The Almighty (Morgan Freeman) gives him the not-too-small job of building an Ark. And so, despite his best efforts to avoid the task in hand, and armed only with a copy of Ark Building for Dummies, Evan gets to work.
It’s when the animals start arriving – in twos, of course – that things begin to get a little difficult for the new Noah. Meanwhile, his family become increasingly alarmed at his behaviour (the choice of robes probably doesn’t help) and they are forced to make some tough choices.
This is a funny film, and Steve Carell does a fine job as the husband and father whose life slowly unravels at home and work before he finally finds salvation in his faith (amen), but it does lack the stand-out moments of the original. It is also a little too saccharin sweet in places, with too much sentimentality at the expense of the comedy.
Comedies don’t have to be relentlessly funny, but they should be fun, and there are a few too many times in Evan Almighty where the fun stops and the schmaltz starts. You get the feeling that director Tom Shadyac is trying a little too hard to convey his – not His – message.
Freeman as God dominates the screen every time he appears, and there is also excellent support from John Goodman, Lauren Graham as Evan’s wife Joan, and Wanda Sykes, who plays his assistant Rita.
If you enjoyed the original, then you won’t be too disappointed with this follow-up. The film is warm, rather than riotous, but that doesn’t make it bad. All you need is a little faith.
Evan Almighty is released on July 20.