Evan Almighty
PG
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +2

Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman, Wanda Sykes, Molly Shannon, Lauren Graham. Comedy/fantasy. Written by Steve Oedekerk. Directed by Tom Shadyac.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Steve Carell, reprising his role as the preening newscaster Evan Baxter of Bruce Almighty, is the next one anointed by God to accomplish a holy mission in the comedy Evan Almighty.Newly elected to Congress, Evan moves his family to suburban northern Virginia, whereupon the freshman Congressman asks God to help him change the world. The prayer is heard, and suddenly Evans life turns upside-down. God (Morgan Freeman) appears and commands Evan to build an ark. Like his biblical predecessor, this new life direction does not sit well with his co-workers, his community or his wife.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Those suspicious of the film industry using a biblical parable to fuel a movie comedy may be nervous with this concept, and may even see sacrilege where none was intended. But the comedy achieved here does not mock spiritual matters, nor is it in any way covertly used to denigrate the book of Genesis. Director Tom Shadyac (The Nutty Professor, Patch Adams, Liar, Liar) and star Steve Carell (Bruce Almighty, TVs The Office) have simply set out to make a funny movie. Its meant to entertain, not proselytize, and not signal the worlds end. That said, one of Tom Shadyacs strengths as a comic filmmaker (Bruce Almighty, Liar, Liar), is to ridicule mans folly by placing mans goals alongside biblical principals and principles.

Its themes are universal in flavor (the need for faith and standing side by side). The films elements of pacing, characterizations, and the incorporation of live animals along with super CG effects all come delightfully together, resulting in a successful effort to keep young and old glued to their cinema seats. Keeping in mind that the same filmmakers assembled Ace Ventura with Jim Carrey and The Nutty Professor with Eddie Murphy, the absence of anything crude is not realistic. In an effort to capture the attention of the adolescent male, the movie contains several doses of potty humor (a dog sniffing a crotch, lots of bird droppings). However, it is devoid of the sexual imagery found in Bruce Almighty, the producers seem more family-friendly this time around. The production makes us laugh and occasionally gives us a case of the warm fuzzies.

Morgan Freeman is this reviewers favorite movie star of this generation. He inhabits an authority, sincerity and believability few actors possess. Ill go so far as to say that not since Marlon Brando has an actor represented the craft of play acting with such unflinching significance. When I saw him as the President in Deep Impact, I remember thinking, Id vote for that guy. His performance here is also extraordinary. He respectfully mimics the Supreme Beings love and command in a way that pays tribute to the one God. His portrayal may even get audiences to thinking about how we were created and what lies beyond this life.

Director Shadyac proclaims himself to be a Believer, and though he is not sermonizing with this production, he does use it to address the care of this planet and loving one another. And faith. He makes it quite clear that faith is important, even inescapable. There is a moment when Evans faith is displayed through love for his fellow human beings. Like Noah, Evan is mocked by the community for his conviction. But when their scoffing turns to fear at the sight of imminent doom, Evan reaches out with forgiveness and a way of salvation. It was just one of the films touching moments. There are others.

As for laugh-out-loud moments, the star and his equally gifted supporting cast members handle the quips and visual gags with equal aplomb. Its a family pleaser. Indeed, so far, it is the best family film of the year. But before I conclude my thoughts, a word must be said aboutpoop.

In nearly every film aimed at the adolescent male, you are going to find anatomical and scatological humor well represented. Indeed, bodily functions have been so associated with movie comedy of late that its mere mention tends to raise the eyebrows of those who feel such crudity should remain where it belongs on the baseball diamond.

Now, toilet humor is my least favorite. I associate it with lazy writing. But there is almost always an exception to any rule. This is a movie filled with animals two by two, and animals are not inhibited by bodily functions. The filmmakers take advantage of this uninhibited release, occasionally using birds to, how should I put this, dump on mans pomposity. Its still not in the best of taste, I grant you, but if you have ever worked on a farm or built a patio under a telephone pole, you know poop is inescapable.

Its a production that embraces kids and adults alike with its humor and its message. Whats more, Evan Almighty may cause discussion among children and their parents concerning Noah and the flood or forgiving people who have wronged you, or maybe just about poop.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Universal

Summary
Crude Language: I caught no verbal crudity, but there are several visuals that border on coarseness, including an overly friendly dog who buries his head in a mans crotch; we get this visual at least twice; the other crudity has to do with bird droppings oh, there are a lot of bird droppings.
Obscene Language: There are a couple of minor expletives, but I caught no harsh or profane language.
Profanity: The expression oh my God, or variation of that phrase are repeated a couple of times.
Violence: There are several comic pratfalls, but no brutality. There is the threat of a flooding.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: During one scene, when Evan has rebelled, the Lord makes his clothes disappear; he steps outside unaware of his nudity; the scene is played for laughs and it has been filmed discretely so the audience sees nothing.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Two minor sexual innuendoes that will no doubt go over the heads of the youngest viewers; one of the kids mentions an animal containing a large penis; this joke is repeated.
Drug Abuse: Wine with dinner.
Other: The family prays together and both parents have an epiphany, which strengthens their faith.
Running Time: 95 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

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