By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
Evan Almighty is a shameless exploitation of Christians and liberals, which leaves only the thundering horde of moderate Republicans to wonder how they fit into God's plan. This fable about God (Morgan Freeman) asking Congressman Evan Baker (Steve Carell) to build an ark in anticipation of a flood is corny, manipulative, self-righteous, self-satisfied, and fun.
The number of logical inconsistencies is legion, from a God talking to said legislator (certainly never has happened in the history of American lawmaking and never will except in the fantasy of movies) to animals pairing off to board an ark. But this is a fantasy no more absurd than all the fairy tales that have guided our moral compass since the beginning of storytelling.
Those with a liberal bent will delight in this film's savaging corrupt lawmakers who profit from turning public land into developments, and those who faithfully follow the words of Christ will be ecstatic with the film's championing family, prayer, and good deeds. Yes, this is silly, didactic stuff but carefully crafted by the makers of Bruce Almighty not to offend non-believers, who mostly will agree that small acts of kindness change the world in the long haul regardless of Jesus or God.
Besides land-grabbing neocons, the only group to be insulted by this innocuous cautionary tale is the animal activists, who no doubt will be offended that in most cases real animals appear to be used in the film rather than CGI equivalents. I found the use of real animals refreshing and amazing considering the super-human success of having them blissfully appear in front of the camera.
Evan Almighty is rousing good moralizing, directed squarely at the heart of an American population longing for miraculous deliverance from corruption.
The real miracle is that a cynic like me enjoyed it.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com