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Director: Tom Shadyac
Starring: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, John Goodman, Jonah Hill, Wanda Sykes, John Michael Higgins
Sequels are a dicey business. Even if you do manage to bring back all the old cast, writer, director, etc. which didn’t happen here, it is never certain that you will be able to re-capture the magic of the original film. Writer Steve Oedekerk (who shared credit on Bruce Almighty) returns, as does director Tom Shadyac. The cast is largely new except for Morgan Freeman who shines again as God and Carell, who moves from a bit part into the starring role this time out. Carell is still a bit new to this leading man thing, so I will offer a little un-requested advice. When they offer you the most money, make sure they are also offering most of funny lines, too. Freeman has the best written role here and it is was so much better that I started to feel a sense of relief anytime I saw his character return. Carell spends too much of the movie gasping in shock, surprise, or dismay. In Bruce Almighty, Carrey’s comedic talents drove the movie, but Carell is more of a straight man and doesn’t have that one-man-show talent. There are a few laughs but not enough and the story is ok, but nowhere near enough to make up for the lack of chuckles.
Carell plays TV anchorman, Evan Baxter, who has just been elected to Congress, where the environmentally-challenged, self-absorbed, oblivious Washington rookie is quickly sucked into the sphere of the powerful Congressman Long, played masterfully by veteran actor, John Goodman. Everything seems to be looking rosy for the Baxter clan, when God (Freeman) shows up to tell Evan Baxter to forget all this and build an Ark. Evan is understandably reluctant to do this, but God can be quite persuasive and soon Evan begins the project as stunned staffers and concerned family members look on. For humor, we are fed a steady diet of slapstick building mishaps, animal schtick and a Santa Clause-like transformation. It’s not much, but that’s what we’ve got. There are a few laughs, a somewhat suspenseful ending and some good effects.
This is a safe, bland, family viewing choice that is unlikely to be either hated or loved, although it had one scene that offered far more nasal care coverage than any movie needs. In this flick, God appears to have pretty low expectations for behaviour compared to how things seemed to have worked in the Bible days. There is some kind of goofy message about the importance of family and God giving opportunities for us to help ourselves and make good choices, but God-Freeman pretty much only offers one choice then rewards his followers for making that choice. There was probably more to the message, but I’ve already forgotten it, just as I will soon do with the rest of this movie.