Time: 95 mins.
SYNOPSIS: God contacts Congressman Evan Baxter and tells him to build an ark in preparation for a great flood.
BOTTOM LINE: I'm not sure what the filmmakers were thinking when they decided to make this sort of sequel to BRUCE ALMIGHTY, a film that was only borderline funny despite it's big box office take. Since they clearly couldn't compel Carrey to reprise his leading role, they went with the funny man of the moment Steve Carrell, who was Carrey's nemesis in BRUCE. Now I have nothing against Carrell, and in fact, find him to be a brilliant comedian, but this film is a one-trick pony that fails to utilize much of his talent. Unless you consider making funny faces and dressing up like a character from the Bible hilarious.
The concept of God telling a modern man to build an ark – which Bill Cosby managed to make hilarious in his early stand up routines – may have seemed funny while they were trying to come up with a story for this "sequel", but the execution is just not that entertaining. Sure watching someone who's supposed to be a respectable congressman turn into someone who looks like Moses is amusing, but they beat the jokes about his transformation to death. If watching him shave and having the hair instantly grow back is funny once, twice or even three times, 10 times will be funnier because it's more and more is always better. There are many roads they could have taken, but they missed the high one.
The plot is simplistic and obvious with only Freeman, Higgins and Sykes delivering the comedy goods. Graham is given little to do except play the lovely, yet long-suffering wife who believes her husband has gone off the deep end. The fact that he's spending more time with their sons since he started his "craft project" makes her happy, but the arrival of a vertible jungle of animals reduces her joy significantly, as one can imagine. Of course, no one believes his dire prediction about the coming flood, especially his corrupt boss Senator Congressman Long, played with brash abandon by Goodman, who chews more scenary than the animals.
That Evan's proven right and the ark put to very good use is not a big surprise, but the flood gives the film at least a bit of excitement, even if the effects budget was clearly spent on Carrell's ever-growing beard instead of the massive boat careening down an instant river. Carrell certainly gives his all to this performance and one has to give him kudos for working with both children and animals, which can't have been easy. I know this is a family film and on that level it will probably be amusing enough for those with little ones. I was just hoping for a story that was deeper than a puddle with a message that's been around since Noah actually walked the Earth.