HD-DVD: Evan Almighty

When Jim Carrey passed on a sequel to Bruce Almighty, director Tom Shadyac turned to Steve Carell, who played Evan Baxter in the first film and was becoming a bankable star after 40-Year-Old Virgin, to take the lead. Evan gets elected congressman from Buffalo, NY and moves to Virginia with his wife and three sons. Shortly after his arrival, God, played by the returning Morgan Freeman, tells Evan he needs to build an ark for the upcoming flood. When Evan refuses, God forces him to do it. Everyone, including his wife, thinks he’s crazy as the state has been in the middle of a drought. Considering God is his side, the outcome is never in question.

Evan Almighty is a change in tone for the series. Bruce was a romantic comedy. Evan is a children’s movie, which may explain why the writers felt they could get away with such a dumb script. Setting aside serious theological contradictions of the plot, there are a lot of things not dealt with because the writers didn’t care or weren’t smart enough to figure them out. For example, Evan didn’t bother to point out to his detractors his beard appearing full after shaving it or the wild animals, including polar bears, coming to his home.

The movie is mildly amusing at best and most suited to young children who like animals. Carell tries hard with the material, but can barely squeak out laughs. The movie’s one saving grace for adults is Wanda Sykes, who has all the funniest lines. If they consider making another one, and considering it is currently the most expensive comedy ever made, that’s not likely, it should be Rita Almighty starring Sykes or nothing.

The HD DVD release, which offers the standard DVD on the flipside, comes with U Control, a function that changes the entire experience. No longer a movie to watch or a story to follow, but a multimedia presentation to immerse yourself in as three features can be set to happen or notify the viewer when they are available. “Picture In Picture” shows interviews and behind-the-scenes footage that correspond with what’s playing on screen.

U Control also offers two different forms of pop-ups. “Ark Building For Dummies,” also the title of the book God gives to Evan, presents instructions on how to build an ark. When “Get On Board” is engaged, animals appear at the bottom of the screen offering trivia about ecology and tips about improving the environment.

Additional features include deleted scenes and outtakes, a number of behind-the-scenes segments on different aspects of production, and a game.

The HD version of movie is presented in 1080P High Definition Widescreen 2.35:1. The colors are vibrant and crisp, although the CGI work with the animals is too obvious at times. The Standard is in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1.

The HD version audio is available in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 in English and French. This isn’t really a movie where there’s a great deal of unusual sound design other than the occasional animal in surround. This won’t be the movie you use to show off your system to your friends.

While I can’t recommend owning it, Evan Almighty is a passable “family film night” rental.

Grade: C

dvd-mrbrooks.jpgRelease Date: October 9, 2007
Rated: PG
Running Time: 96 minutes
Cast: Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham
Director: Tom Shadyac
Studio: Universal Studios
Buy: Amazon.com