“This is how liberty ends – with tumultuous applause.”
Finally, something I actually wanted to watch this week and did not feel overly guilty about reviewing! Evan Almighty, a sort-of sequel to Bruce Almighty, is one of those quintessential American family comedies with an impossibly large budget, impossibly shiny sets and an impossibly sugary plot in which everything, magically, is made All Better by the end. (I refuse to count this as a spoiler. If you thought this film would have a sad ending, well, you’re watching the wrong films.) Add a dose of Non-Specific But Definitely Christian Moralising, and you’ve got the general picture.
Evan Almighty follows Evan Baxter (the news anchor whom Bruce replaced in Bruce Almighty) as he pursues a career in American politics. One day, God chooses Evan to build an ark for unspecified reasons and basically ruins his life until Evan does as he’s told.
Exactly what happens for most of the Bible, in fact. (Aside from the American politics bit, obviously.)
I’ve always quite liked this film, although I’m not sure why. It’s mildly amusing, yes, in a rather broad, unsubtle kind of way. It has cute animals. (“The animals went in two by two, hurrah, hurrah.” Anyone?) The Bad Guy gets his comeuppance. There’s a nice kind of simplistic fairy-tale-ish-ness to the story. It works as a metaphor. Sort of.
But this time around I was vaguely disturbed by the warm, fuzzy and most of all non-specific morality of the film. It touches on issues like the destruction of nature, and then sweeps them under the carpet with an over-arching message that reads something like “Have faith, and everything will be fine.” Don’t engage with the world. Don’t do anything that might actually be useful. Just do what God tells you – without question, without thinking – and everything will work out.
Yes, yes, I do realise this is only a comedy, not meant to be taken seriously, etc., etc. And it’s funny, and warm, and generally marshmallow-ish. But too many marshmallows aren’t, on the whole, very good for you, and I think too much of Evan Almighty might have the same effect.