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Evan Almighty

Studio: Universal
Director: Tom Shadyac
Producer: Steve Carell/Tom Shadyac/Gary Barber/Roger Birnbaum
Writer: Steve Oderkerk/Joel Cohen
Cast: Steve Carell, John Goodman, Wanda Sykes, Lauren Graham
It didn't seem like Steve Carell to be second fiddle in a sequel to a so-so comedy from a couple of years ago, but he and his agents obviously thought they could make something special out of Evan Almigty and further cement Carell's reputation as one of the gods (sorry) of comedy.

Universal misjudged either the appeal or the execution badly, and the most expensive comedy ever made (at $175m) barely returned more than $30m on its opening weekend, only just limping towards its budget now, months later after releasing throughout much of the rest of the world.

It's actually a quite different premise this time as newsreader (the only nod to Jim Carrey in the original) -turned-junior congressman Evan Baxter (Carell) is asked by God (Morgan Freeman) to build an ark for the coming flood rather than getting God's power for his own purposes.

He wants none of it, so there's plenty of opportunity for laughs as animals start following Evan around and he starts getting biblical - growing a beard he can't remove, showing up in robes no matter what he wears until he relents and starts to build the ark, sure the flood will come.

Everyone's as funny as they can be given the material and there is some flab here and there. The role doesn't really suit Carell, calling for a much lower key, everyman-style actor, and he flounders badly in the schmaltzy family-first themes of a big studio comedy.

Most of the money appears to have gone into the CGI- and bluescreen-heavy climatic flood scene, or maybe it was Carell's salary and Evan Almighty's failure might take him down a few pegs.

Plenty of Carrey contemporaries were still behind the scenes, with longtime collaborators Oedekerk writing and Shadyac directing.

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