The spinoff comedy Evan Almighty sees former TV news anchor turned newly elected Congressman Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) relocating from Buffalo, NY, to a Virginian suburb with his wife (Lauren Graham) and three sons to start making good on his campaign promise to “change the world.”
At first it’s hard to believe that this is the same weasley Evan Baxter who was humorously humiliated on-air by an omnipotent, vengeful Jim Carrey in 2003’s Bruce Almighty. But it doesn’t take long to see that although Evan is no longer an unlikable cut-throat, he’s still pretty self-centered and oblivious.
While Evan says he wants to change the world (for the better), it seems that he has neither the motivation to begin nor the foresight to even know what his promise means. With encouragement from his wife Joan, Evan makes a short bedtime pray for guidance.
And that’s where God comes in.
Or rather the human embodiment of God (Morgan Freeman, reprising the role), who commands Evan to build an ark, biblical-style, in preparation for an imminent cataclysmic event. The ways in which the reluctant Congressman tries get out of doing this enormous task are hilarious as are all the practical jokes God plays on him, like having animals pairs follow him everywhere, birds invade his office, and making his hair and beard grow back longer each day no matter how often he trims it. And that’s just the beginning of it all.
Obviously, such unusual occurrences start to draw attention then alienation from his family, friends, and fellow Congress members, who think Evan’s gone mad, especially the ill-intentioned Congressman Long (John Goodman). But eventually, Evan not only takes up the task wholeheartedly, but also begins to learn a few lessons about how to truly change the world for the better.
Like most family comedies, there’s a moral to the story. For this one, it’s protecting the environment and animals, respecting your fellow man, and spending quality time with your loved ones. But Evan Almighty has a few things that sets it apart from other family comedies: Aside from its global message, the extraordinary array of animals (most of which were on set — not CGI) and landscape views make this film visually beautiful. It’s easy to see why this film is now the most expensive comedy ever made.
Then there’s inclusion of Wanda Sykes, who plays the role of Evan’s executive assistant Rita as if she were playing herself. Honestly, I had an easier time believing that God told a Congressman to build an ark than I did that a Congressman would hire Wanda Sykes as his assistant. But that hardly matters, since Sykes is there for one reason and one reason only: to make you laugh your ass off, and that she certainly does, especially during her interactions with Evan and her fellow coworkers Marty (John Michael Higgins) and Eugene (Knocked Up‘s Jonah Hill).
After watching Evan Almighty, you’ll be asking Jim who? Carrey what? But just remember, be careful what you pray for, because no matter how innocuous you think it might be, Morgan Freeman will show up and totally mess with you.