"Evan Almighty" is a strange sort of movie, calling it a sequel to "Bruce Almighty" is not exactly true as although it reprises a couple of characters and a similar theme it really has little to do with the first movie. Secondly, whilst "Bruce Almighty" and most comedies have a subtle sub text, a meaning or purpose, "Evan Almighty" doesn't really have one or at least one which is easily identifiable. Some might say it has an environmental message, if so it doesn't deliver it very well. But the fact there is no real sub text or message is not really a problem as "Evan Almighty" still works well enough with out it.
Having traded the news desk for a role in politics, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell - Little Miss Sunshine) lands a position as a congressman in Washington, having won his campaign with the promise that he would change the world. But when he has an encounter with God (Morgan Freeman - The Contract), he is persuaded after much hounding to build an almighty ark just as Noah did thousands of years earlier. But by following orders from above Evan not only risks his political career but also losing his family.
Where "Evan Almighty" certainly comes up trumps is by taking a biblical theme and using it as a source for the comedy without really offending anyone who is religious. It's notoriously difficult to achieve this yet "Evan Almighty" manages to derive a lot of humour from adapting the well known story of Noah to a modern day scenario. Some might say that at times "Evan Almighty" is a little bit too preachy when it comes to the theme, but then I found this a nice change from the norm. What I will say is that by playing safe the comedy in "Evan Almighty" is a lot more family friendly and lacks the risque and over the top gags which were key to the success of "Bruce Almighty".
What I find strange is that this feels like a stepping stone to highlight the comic talents of Steve Carell, which is weird as this was already proven with movies such as "The 40 Yar Old Virgin". I get the slight feeling that "Evan Almighty" was dreamt up prior to Carell's success as a lead man and as a career building movie is a bit superfluous. But saying all this it gives Carell room to demonstrate what a good comedy actor he is and there are definitely comparisons to be made between Carell and Robin Williams in their comedy styling.
Although Steve Carell is the primary draw in "Evan Almighty" the casting of Wanda Sykes and Jonah Hill in supporting roles stops the comedy from being all one sided. Whilst Carell takes most of the visual gags the quick witted quips from Hill and Sykes work brilliantly to make it nearly a laugh a minute movie.
Thankfully Morgan Freeman gets to reprise his role as God, I say thankfully as I would hate to have seen anyone else cast in this role. His voice, his mannerisms and that sense of worldly wisdom which he portrays in many of his movies makes him a perfect choice. What I will say is that Freeman is underused in "Evan Almighty" and although it doesn't spoil things I wish there had been more for him to do in it.
What this all boils down to is that "Evan Almighty" is a very safe, family friendly movie which whilst not being riotously funny has enough going on to raise a few laughs. As a sequel to "Bruce Almighty" it feels lacking in several departments but in its own right works remarkably well. It's one to watch if you like clean humour but you will most likely be disappointed if you expect anything in the least bit outrageous or controversial.