Sunday, June 17, 2007

In Evan We Trust

Evan Almighty

You know the feeling. You're watching a trailer for some new movie and after a few seconds you're thinking 'no way'. That's how I feel about 'Evan Almighty'. This picture looks like too many (desperate) Hollywood chefs have spoiled the broth.

Bruce AlmightyHere, Hollywood is on autopilot -- take a hit and roll out a sequel with the best resources available no matter how much it costs or how inappropriate the blend of stars and story elements is.

'Bruce Almighty' had the right blend of ingredients: The over-the-top style of Jim Carrey balanced with the girl next door energy of Jennifer Aniston, set against the backdrop of a premise that clicked -- 'Man gets the power of God' (complications ensue).

Steve Carell is a funny guy but he has always worked on a smaller canvas than Carrey. Carell is the Everyman trying to make it despite everyday problems. Carrey's characters are loud, pratfalling, purposefully off-putting clowns who strive for dominance -- a perfect choice for 'Bruce Almighty', (and for 'Evan Almighty'). I'm not really a fan of Carrey's work, but 'Evan' could use his energy.

Evan Almighty

Then, there's the comparison of premise to consider. How does 'A guy is told he must build an ark' compare with 'A guy gets the power of God'. One pegs the meter and the other seems like a series of problems -- where will I get the wood, how will I know how to build an ark, how will I gather the animals, etc. I guess that could be funny but it doesn't have the universal appeal of regular person trying to deal with the problems incumbent with being Chief Administrator of the World.

I like Carell but I think he's mismatched here. He's too...oh...polite for this movie. So, I think the Hollywood marketing guys have their backs against the wall on this one. A movie with a $200 million dollar budget that has a lead who's a natural for smaller movies is going to be tough to explain should 'Evan' fall short at the box office.

Even 'Evan Almighty' director Tom Shadyac acknowledges there's a problem. In an interview he says:

"Spider-Man 3 cost around $300 million. We're $170 million-plus -- (that's) the official figure although even I don't know what it was (for certain). We're one of the cheaper summer movies, yet we're a comedy, so it's unique. But it's also much more than a comedy. We're a biblical epic with an ark and thousands of animals and a flood.

Comparing 'Evan Almighty' to 'Spider-Man 3' and selling the movie as a biblical epic with an ark sort of tips your hand, doesn't it? On the plus side, the always charming and pitch-perfect Morgan Freeman returns as God, and that's not bad.

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