Having missed a few screenings by being out of town or ill, it was nice to start catching up on being ahead by seeing Evan Almighty.
The film doesn't really resemble its predecessor, Bruce Almighty. That movie was a mostly non-Christian take on man's relationship with God, with a protagonist (Jim Carrey) often frustrated with the world and himself. This one is a family film that derives more directly from the Bible and has a hero (Steve Carell) who's a bit of an empty vessel even before he's asked by God to build one.
And speaking of God, why so little Morgan Freeman this time? He's just as personable and wise as before, but isn't on screen as much or as memorably. After accepting his mission, Evan becomes significantly self-reliant, in perhaps a parallel to the story of Noah's Ark. But the reduced screen time of Freeman hurts.
The movie coasts along smoothly, with Buffalo news anchor Evan Baxter now a recently elected Congressman who relocates to Washington, DC with his wife (Lauren Graham) and three sons. The Bible references come early and often, and we get the idea that Evan's calling and his job form a quite literal church vs. state conflict. It's a clever conceit that masks flaws you don't really think about until after the movie.
A few words on the film's bloated budget, attributable mostly to shooting delays, special effects, and animal wrangling: I got the feeling that the film tries to karmically recoup these expenses by focusing heavily on the animals, perhaps sacrificing character development and story. It's as if the filmmakers needed to show why the film was so expensive.