New senator Evan Baxter wants to get noticed. But being visited by the Almighty and an influx of unwelcome animals wasn’t the plan. Thinking he’s going cuckoo, and surrounded by creatures great and small, Evan’s got a problem of biblical proportions – not counting the beard that miraculously grows when shaved and a family ready to walk out.
And it’s prophet versus profit, as Evan realizes his ark’s got something to do with the dodgy dealings of oily senator John Goodman. But a prophet goes unheard in his own backyard and no one believes a flood’s on its way. Except the elephants, lions, birds and beavers trotting to his door.
Steve Carell ably steps centre stage after a cameo in Bruce Almighty, his wacky brand of comedy – embarrassing dances, noisy reactions, face-pulling – reminiscent of Jim Carrey but more bearable. Cue lots of pooh-jokes and slapstick but also, refreshingly, some amusing sight gags and contemporary riffs – like God handing Evan a book on Ark Building for Dummies.
The animal antics are often quirkily done as when fish in a tank zoom over to greet Evan, much to his alarm. Broad rather than coarse, the humour is colourful and creative - and it’s only the adults who’ll find Carell’s gurning pratfalls a tad wearying.
But it’s a film with heart and builds some effective tension. And the inevitable white-water ending is impressively rendered. Vibrantly filmed, it’s zippily paced throughout. Family hugs are a staple of US kiddie movies – but Carell’s offbeat brand of humour prevents it being too mawkish.
Playing like a blend of Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Dr Doolittle, The Birds and The Ten Commandments, Evan Almighty is a surprisingly entertaining summer movie – neither too dumb, nor too long.
And while Oxfordshire wonders at the ‘acts of God’ that caused our recent floods, the reason for God’s mysterious ways in Evan Almighty is touchingly revealed. Moral and madcap, Evan Almighty is worth seeing – even if you’ve witnessed more than your share of water this summer.