Sunday, July 08, 2007

I dunno... I kinda liked it

Well, if this doesn't blow my credibility as a film critic, nothing will. Universally trashed by critics, I was ne'theless curious to see it, even more so than Gigli. Or maybe it was a temporary lapse in judgment. Or maybe it was temporary insanity. Incidentally, what is it about boat movies that are so expensive? Titanic, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3, Speed 2, Hot Pursuit, the list goes on and on. Oh yeah, may contain spoilers, although I think I've ruined it plenty already.

Now I'm far from any Bible expert, and I was thankfully allowed to enjoy many of my Sundays as a youth instead of going to Sunday School, but this is really just a re-telling of the story of Noah, right down to the modern "My God! I'm the new Noah!" that we'd all of course expect. At least John Denver seemed more than sufficiently self-righteous in his spreading of God's message. Besides the Evan window dressing, and a slightly different ending, it's really the Noah story. At least the filmmakers did some homework: Evan, like Noah, has three kids. And apparently the story of Noah is Genesis 6:14. For even more obscure biblical references, try the Coens' The Ladykillers.

It seems to me that it's not so much the film that's getting smashed by the critics here, but the recent triumph of Christian values in American culture in general that's getting smashed, and should be, but God bless 'em, they seem to want it more. Like any one of them will tell you, missionaires can wait forever! Of course, I wouldn't hold my breath for too long: remember all the critics that called that first VeggieTales movie 'neat'? And look how that did!

The Christian critics are strangely silent on any of the issues that Evan Almighty presents, or represents. Maybe it's because they know this isn't the movie they're waiting for. Maybe they're waiting for all us secular critics to rip each other's throats out, and then they can all come out of the woodwork and get some nice discounts on recently distressed properties. Or maybe they're uncomfortable with the thought that a black man might be God, I don't know. Remember! When you get to Heaven, the first thing out of your mouth will be "Oh! Sorry about slavery!" I'm probably the wrong person to review this movie, anyway, since I'm not really a big voice in the secular movement. But as an example of good ol' fashioned American, blockbuster filmmaking, I must say I was entertained. I even liked the animals. It's not a four-star movie, but it's far from the worst movie in the world. I was prepared for the worst, but I found it an enjoyable 90 minutes, what can I say? I give credit to writers Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe, whose other recent effort, Click, had a little more under the surface than Adam Sandler's usual layer of gross-out gags. Which is also one of the reasons I was relieved that Evan was rated PG. I made it through High Anxiety, I can handle bird poop...

Seriously, though, say what you will, just as there is scientific research behind junk food, there seems to be scientific research behind making blockbusters better. One critic complained that there was too much plot in this movie. I thought there was just the right amount, and I was able to follow it. The social circles I run in, they're not picky movie-goers. If they can dump their kids off to this, their only complaint is that it isn't longer. Another critic complained there wasn't enough character development. I'm going to let all you Christians in on a secret: that's us secular folks' code word for sex scenes. Which reminds me, doesn't Lauren Graham seem a little young to be playing a wife married for 20 years? Is it just me, or am I just pining for her work in Bad Santa? Now, maybe I'm headed for a mid-life crisis here, (I got a smile out of what ARK really stands for) but some of the critics complain that the laughs in this comedy are in the single digits, and that divided into 175 million is ... you get the idea. I guess that's true, but I don't usually bust my gut laughing at these things anyway. And I'm not a huge, disappointed Steve Carell fan either. I don't watch The Office religiously, but I did like him on The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart and Ed Helms have some nice parts in here. Note to Steve: No Nancy Walls? Is there trouble on the homefront?

Oh yeah, the camerawork. It wasn't too fancy, which I thought was one of the problems with Hot Fuzz, but that's another review.

As for the story of Noah itself, it really must be taken with a pillar of salt. It goes completely against Darwin and the body scientific: if you only save two of every animal in the world, that's a very small gene pool to rebuild from. One thing's for sure: they still can't quite get CGI birds right. Although Harry Potter's owl looks pretty good. Harry Potter's got a wing budget. Incidentally, the story of the making of Evan Almighty is probably an interesting story, too, which is slightly hinted at in the end credits.


so sayeth the Movie Review Hooligan

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