A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sequel to Bruce Almighty is a broader, milder comedy than the original, and it aims to appeal to the whole family (and given the frequent TV ads, chances are even young kids have heard of it). The good news is that even though it's not particularly good, it is pretty safe -- there's no violence, drinking, or sex, and virtually no bad language ("pissed" and "jackass" are as strong as it gets). It's worth noting that the plot revolves around Evan talking directly to God and then obeying his command; there are several biblical references, but no proselytizing.
What's the story?
In EVAN ALMIGHTY, Steve Carell picks up where Jim Carrey left off in the 2003 man-meets-God comedy Bruce Almighty, in which Carrell portrayed scene-stealing, self-centered newscaster Evan Baxter. In this sequel, Evan is a newly-elected Congressman living in a suburban McMansion –-. While Evan's networking on Capitol Hill with his staff (Wanda Sykes, who gets the best lines, and character funnymen John Michael Higgins and Jonah Hill), his long-suffering wife (Gilmore Girls mom Lauren Graham) and three sons feel neglected. God feels her pain, and proving that The Heavenly Father Knows Best, he steps in and commands Evan to build an ark with his boys, turn into an even hairier Barry Gibb doppelganger, and make good on his campaign promise to "change the world."
Is it any good?
While the gags are cartoonish, the message seems straight out of an environmentally conscious Sunday School. John Goodman, playing a senior congressman, is -- to nobody's surprise -- actually a greedy villain whose allies include shady land developers who hate it when natural resources get in the way of profit. Not exactly the most groundbreaking political problem for God's instrument to solve. Despite the movie's disappointingly lackluster story, kids will get a kick out of the animal antics and old-fashioned ark-building lessons. Llamas spitting green bile on greedy politicos? Now that's inspiring.
Compared to the first "Almighty" comedy, Evan doesn't seem as obvious an instrument for God (again played by Morgan Freeman) and his all-knowing lessons as Bruce, who had plenty of complaints to shoot in the Almighty's direction. The laughs, of course, are what you'd expect: lots of species and feces jokes, an overlong montage of Evan hurting himself while playing This Old House with the ark, and endless digs at Evan's appearance, which goes from clean-cut to grizzly man to white-bearded prophet in just a few scenes. Even the cameos are predictable, like Carell pals Jon Stewart, Ed Helms, and Rachael Harris.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie is being marketed. Is it aimed at Steve Carell's fans, people who liked Bruce Almighty, or both? How do the ads make it seem appealing? Also, how is it different from Bruce? Why do you think the filmmakers decided to make the comedy milder this time around? And who's funnier -- Carell or Jim Carrey? Families can also discuss the message about committing acts of random kindness. What would you have done in Evan's place?
- In theaters: June 21, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: October 9, 2007
- Cast: Morgan Freeman, Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes
- Director: Tom Shadyac
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Wild Animals
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild rude humor and some peril.
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