Noah Would Be Proud!
For Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), there is good news and bad news. The good news: He is a newly appointed U.S. Congressman with a brand new mini-mansion in a posh neighborhood, and his family thinks he's a hero. Now for the bad news: God rains on Evan's parade with a mandate to build an ark on his land to avoid an inevitable flood in this modern-day Noah's Ark tale.
Evan's wife, Joan (Lauren Graham), watches in horror as her once-heroic, clean-shaven hubby morphs into an alarming physical transformation of a scraggly, spitting image of Noah. Joan doesn't know whether to slap Evan or support him.
When asked what it was like witnessing such a hilarious metamorphosis in Carell, lead actress Graham said, "He's a very funny guy. It was fun!"
Carell is highly animated and spirited in Evan Almighty. His manic gesturing and facial expressions, though nowhere near as extreme as Jim Carrey's in Bruce Almighty, lent life and charm to the character of Evan Baxter.
The central character of the film is surprisingly not God (Freeman), Evan, his wife Joan, or their kids: it's the ark and the virtual zoo of animals that steal the show. Everything surrounding the ark; the first mention of it by God Almighty, the building of it, and its crash into a building in our nation's capital, add a generous amount of humor to the film.
Although she plays a supporting role as Rita, Evan Baxter's sassy, wisecracking assistant, actress and comedienne Wanda Sykes' improvised scenes will have you in tears and may perhaps be the lines that you remember the most. Sykes, as always, is a riot when playing the quick-witted sidekick.
When asked what her reaction would be if God suddenly appeared and commanded her to build an ark, Sykes said, "I'd give Him a dollar and keep it moving."
Morgan Freeman is believable, even quite reassuring, as God in the film. The timing of God's few appearances is perfect; it's never too much or too bold, but gentle and subtle...as one might imagine God to be.
Said Carell about working with Freeman, "He's a presence. On set, he makes everyone else better than they are. He has a very good sense of humor about himself. He's one of those kind of guys who walks around and people have such reverence for him."
Evan Almighty is a thoroughly clean, enjoyable family film. Although it received a PG rating, it is sufficiently devoid enough of profanity, spicy innuendo, and gore that you can feel completely at ease with taking children to enjoy it. One could only hope that all PG-rated Hollywood films could manage to successfully tell a story without all of the extraneous muck.