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Evan Almighty Reviews

Though it's quite possibly an even worse film than BRUCE ALMIGHTY (2003), the sequel offers at least one consolation: The smug and increasingly unfunny Jim Carrey is replaced by the very talented Steve Carell. But not even The Office star's ironic deadpan and perfect comic delivery can save a leaden comedy rooted in special effects and spectacle instead of wit. No longer simply an egocentric newscaster from Buffalo, New York, Evan Baxter (Carell) is now a U.S. congressman who won on the campaign promise that he's going to somehow "change the world." Evan, along with his wife Joan (Lauren Graham) and their three indistinguishable sons (Johnny Simmons, Graham Phillips, Jimmy Bennett) pile into their shiny-new, gas-guzzling Hummer and drive down to their new, oversized home in the suburban Virginia housing development of Prestige Crest. Once one of God's little green acres and filled with trees, ponds and wildlife, Prestige Crest is now a dry, deforested patch of half-built McMansions and empty lots. At home, Evan picks out some fine, 300-year-old-growth Brazilian cherry wood for his new kitchen cabinets, while at the Capitol he and his executive assistant (Wanda Sykes) are bumped up from basement digs to a windowed "power office." The upgrade comes courtesy of the powerful Congressman Long (John Goodman), who in return expects Evan to cosponsor a public land bill that would open federally protected parks to private development. But no sooner does Evan settle into his new Beltway life than he begins experiencing strange phenomena: "Gen 6:14" (the Old Testament chapter and verse in which God commands Noah to build an ark out of gopher wood) begins appearing everywhere he looks, from his alarm clock to his new license plates. Old-fashioned woodworking tools (from the "Alpha-Omega Hardware," har har) and piles of lumber are delivered to his home. Pairs of animals follow him everywhere. And just when things couldn't get any weirder, Evan gets a visit from God (Morgan Freeman) himself, who hands him a copy of "Ark Building for Dummies" and tells him to get to work before the flood comes. Technically, this sequel-of-sorts can't be called a disappointment, since BRUCE ALMIGHTY was a bad movie to begin with. But it's a bummer to see talent wasted. The more Evan comes to resemble traditional images of Noah — he grows a beard he can't shave and is forced to wear Charlton Heston's hand-me-downs — the more irritatingly sanctimonious the film becomes, preaching a shallow message of environmentalism and changing the world through "one random act of kindness" at a time. Sanctimony isn't something that Carell can pull off with a straight face — thank the lord — and it's depressing to learn that God Himself speaks in bumper-sticker slogans. Equally sad is seeing the talented Sykes once again sidelined in another clunker: Rather than a star in her own right, she's become the Thelma Ritter of bad Hollywood comedies (see MONSTER-IN-LAW, MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND), a wisecracking truth-teller reduced to providing comic relief in comedic misfires.