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Case Number 12246

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Evan Almighty (HD DVD)

Universal // 2007 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 22nd, 2007

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson wants to disembark from this water-logged experience.

Editor's Note

Our review of Evan Almighty, published October 22nd, 2007, is also available.

The Charge

A comedy of Biblical proportions.

Opening Statement

The follow-up to the hit Jim Carrey comedy Bruce Almighty, this Old Testament-inspired outing places Steve Carell (The Office) in the central role as God's humble servant who makes funny faces.

Facts of the Case

Carell is Evan Baxter, formerly a news anchor in Buffalo, now a congressman who campaigned on the platform of "changing the world." It's not long after he and his family land in D.C. that he's put on a new path. God (Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty) makes an appearance, tasking Evan with building an ark.

Reluctant at first, Evan finally clues on the subtle nudging God has been giving him (pairs of animals not leaving him alone, unmanageable facial hair, massive amounts of lumber dropped off in his backyard) and takes up the job, to the consternation of his family, friends and congressional staff.

As the world mocks him and a belligerent congressman (John Goodman) threatens him, Evan will have his faith tested and all the while he'll make funny faces.

The Evidence

I'd say that Evan Almighty was disappointing, but that would require lofty expectations going in and they weren't there because a) Bruce Almighty, its predecessor, wasn't that great to begin with, and b) this is more a kids movie than something to keep adults entertained. Frankly, this was not a very funny comedy, highlighted by only a handful of laughs and lowlighted by some painful gags that land with cement-laden thuds.

Carell does his best to bring the manic mannerisms of Carrey, but the screaming and wild gesticulations and goofy facial ticks do not suit his comedic style. Carrey can get away with the rubber-like contortions, but when Carell does it—at least here—it very, very rarely delivers laughs, unless you're four years-old. However, once Evan accepts his ark-building obligation, Carell jettisons the slapstick humor and actually becomes a serious character. In fact, that can apply to the pace of the film overall, with the final third turning into a straight-forward adventure film when the flood strikes and the ark takes off from its moorings. It's kind of odd really.

But it's also evident of what I think director Tom Shadyac was trying to do: entice Christian and family-film-centric viewers to come check out his comedy and maybe snag a slice of the lucrative The Passion of the Christ demographic and maybe recoup the bloated budget of the production. The box office underperformed because, as noted, the film isn't funny and the Christian/Biblical message is—excuse the pun—watered-down. So God's grand plan is to flood Washington D.C. (and cause countless unseen fatalities) to prevent some bad legislation? Please. You'll get a few nice points about a family supporting each other and the power of prayer and what-not, but the moral lessons are milquetoast at best, corny at worst.

On the upside, there are a lot of animals running around, the visual effects work is quite nice and Morgan Freeman once again classes up the joint as he does with just about any joint he takes part in. For what it's worth.

The 2.35:1 widescreen (1080p) is solid. This is film rich in colors and the HD transfer renders them with zest. The multitude of animals in particular look great. Though there are a few instances when the visual effects look obviously CGI in the upgraded clarity, these too are also a pleasure to look at. Overall, a nice video presentation. The 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus mix, however, didn't wow me, projecting an uneven mix that varied between shallow and robust. The surrounds were put to good use, though, with animal sounds filling my living room. A good, but not great audio treatment.

Finally, the extras, and there are a lot on this disc. The high-def specific materials: a U-control picture-in-picture width interviews, on-set footage and featurettes, "Ark Building for Dummies," a text-only how-to guide and "Get on Board," where animals pop up and give tips about minimizing your carbon footprint. Thanks animals! Traditional supplements offer deleted scenes and outtakes (all family-safe), a featurette on the animals, an interactive matching game, "Steve Carell Unscripted," which is just what it sounds like, "Becoming Noah," a make-up feature, "The Almighty Green Set," detailing the crew's efforts to be eco-friendly, a visual-effects documentary and some disposable bits with the crew delivering even more "green" tips, "Acts of Random Kindness," and some text-only animal info. I like the behind-the-scenes stuff (the ark-building was insane) but a lot of this is forgettable.

Closing Statement

A mediocre film, a good-looking and good-sounding high-definition presentation and a loaded, if uneven, batch of extras.

The Verdict

Thou will likely not laugh.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 85
Extras: 90
Acting: 65
Story: 70
Judgment: 77

Perp Profile

Studio: Universal
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
Genres:
• Comedy
• Fantasy

Distinguishing Marks

• Picture-in-Picture
• Ark Building for Dummies
• Get on Board Animal Tips
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Animals Featurette
• Interactive Game
• Steve Carell Unscripted
• Ark Building Feature
• Visual Effects Feature
• Almighty Green Set
• Almighty Green Forest
• Acts of Random Kindness
• Cast and Crew Green Tips
• Animal Wrangler

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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