One of the funniest things about ‘Bruce Almighty’ was Steve Carell’s uptight newsreader Evan Baxter – but don’t expect this sequel to be wall-to-wall laughs. Here, Evan has been elected as a congressman and trots off to Washington DC with his wife and kids in tow. Everything looks rosy for the super-slick Evan: there’s a big new house, a fantastic office and a healthy pay packet. But he wasn’t banking on God (Morgan Freeman) making an appearance and asking him to build an ark, thereby exposing him to ridicule from all comers. Gradually, Evan is forced to submit to God’s request and ends up a long-haired laughing stock – but possibly the one man who could save the city from an impending flood.
So, wife, kids, animals coming two by two: this is family-friendly comedy, more ‘Cheaper By The Dozen’ than the relatively grown-up ‘Bruce Almighty’. Evan’s attempts to avoid God’s message are initially amusing as pairs of animals start to pop up everywhere and he find himself unable to shave off his sprouting beard. But moments like the latter will have both theologians and believers frowning: surely looking like a Biblical character isn’t the point? This is, in theory, about the environment, political corruption, one man standing up to the establishment – and the Christian faith. But it’s done with such a safe, cautious hand that it fails to deliver many laughs past the obvious. There is a flash of excitement when the flood comes, despite the dodgy CG. And peripheral characters such as John Goodman’s corrupt congressman and Jonah Hill’s research nerd intermittently amuse. But ‘Evan Almighty’ misses so many tricks, it ultimately misses the mark. Anna Smith