Dir. Tom Shadyac, US, 2007, 95 mins
Cast: Steve Carrell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, Wanda Sykes
Review by Matthew Rodgers
Voiceover man:-The outcome rests on the shoulders of a single man as he attempts to salvage something from an increasingly bloated situation that is in danger of sinking. We’ll get onto Noah in a moment. For the real tale of woe in this tenuous Bruce Almighty sequel that nobody really wanted (the original wasn’t that memorable), and has a reported budget of $175m (more than Transformers fact fans!) is that not even the considerable talent of Steve Carell (The 40-Year Old Virgin) and Morgan Freeman (Se7en) can save this from being an inept piece of puerile comedy with little appeal beyond ankle biters with a penchant for toilet humour.
Reprising his brief and admittedly funny role in the original, Carrell is straight laced newsreader Evan Baxter who is chosen by God (Freeman) to lead the animals two-by-two onto his DIY ark in an attempt to “change the world”. Coinciding with his ridiculous decision to move into politics, Evan’s animal antics and beard sprouting change in appearance lead those around him to question his sanity as he pursues his biblical quest. Hilarity does not ensue.
Director Tom Shadyac has made a career that boasts combined billion dollar grossing films off the back of high profile stars. Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor, Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, and Robin Williams in Patch Adams. They are a list of performers who have raised mediocre films above their tide line due to their irrepressible onscreen performances. Steve Carrell, through no fault of his own, suffers from being a more humble on-screen presence, benefiting from more detailed comedy scripting such as Judd Apatow’s Virgin and NBC’s The Office; here he is little more than a passenger for a series of rushed montages and expensive special effects. It’s the first blip on his career trajectory that started with Bruce and surprised us all with Little Miss Sunshine.
The supporting cast aboard the ark also suffer with the underdeveloped script; John Goodman is pure pantomime, Wanda Sykes has a thankless role delivering clichéd asides, Jonah Hill who is soon to be seen in comedy of the year Superbad and US hit Knocked Up is completely wasted, and the biggest sin of all are the expository lines given to the divine Morgan Freeman to utter. The Oscar winning star played God with a sparkle in his eye in the functionary original but for his second holy mission he looks completely bored throughout.
Missing the boat with the possibilities for religious satire and only hammering home the environmental issue in the final third, “for Evans sake” not even the usually reliable simian performance can raise a chuckle from a film about a flood that suffers a real comedic drought.