EVOLUTION (2001) 

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David Duchovny
Orlando Jones
Julianne Moore
Seann William Scott
Dan Aykroyd
Wayne Duvall
Ted Levine
Michael Bower
Wendy Braun

Ivan Reitman



Time: 95 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy/Science Fiction

I just don't know where to begin...I wanted to like this movie. I was excited to see it. After all, Ivan Reitman has made some of the funniest movies of all time. Plus, he had a great cast. Certainly not of the Murray, Ramis, Aykroyd variety, but David Duchovny and Julianne Moore are pretty good actors, who have proven to have comedic chops, so I had hopes this would be closer to GHOSTBUSTERS than MARS ATTACKS! The fact is, it was closer to the former than one would think, which was done 10 times better. I'm not sure, but is it considered stealing if you recycle from yourself? Most of the jokes, situations and characters were all something you've seen before. The punch lines, for the most part, expected. I can understand why everyone jumped on the bandwagon. As an actor I would love to work with a director as talented as Reitman. However, I think that blinded everyone to the fact that EVOLUTION was neither original – not always a problem – or amusing – a big, big problem. How they could read this script and go,"Hey, this sounds good," is a mystery that will never be solved.

Our first introduction to the leads Duchovny, playing scientist Ira Kane, and Orlando Jones, playing geologist Harry Block, actually gave me hope that this would turn out on the better end of the comedy spectrum. However, it goes down quickly from there. As professors at Glen Canyon Community College, they are the closest scientists to a recent meteor crash site, so they decide to go check it out. The samples they collect soon begin to do something really weird – evolve. Knowing that their discovery could get them out of this podunk little town, they try to keep what's happening a secret. Unfortunately, the government discovers the crash site and takes over the situation. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless the colonel in charge was your ex-boss, which is Ira's dilemma. See he used to work for the Pentagon, but got into a bit of trouble and was fired. Thus, his exile to Arizona. Ira tries to appeal to the lovely, yet clumsy CDC scientist Allison Reed (Moore) with his quiet charm and geeky good looks, but she's more concerned with containing the potential alien menace than his spat with the colonel.

"Ladies, ladies, there's a terrifying alien bird menacing the mall. Can we focus?"

It looks like Ira and Harry are cut out of the loop until fireman-in-training Wayne Green (Scott) brings them a little surprise. He met them at the crash site and thought they might be interested in the dead alien that was menacing the country club he worked at. Though the creatures are evolving at an exponential rate, it seems they have not yet adapted to Earth's oxygen-rich environment. Of course, that happens sooner than they expect, which leads them to hunting one down in the local mall. Back at the crash site, the aliens start to take matters into their own hands and it becomes clear that unless something is done immediately, they're going to take over the world. The military's answer is to (come on, you can guess) blow them to kingdom come. It goes without saying that Allison defects to our ragtag fleet of alien busters, that they discover what will actually destroy the aliens with the help of two of Ira's dumbest students and that the colonel will not take their call therefore doing the one thing that will make the situation worse. Which is really no problem because our team is on the job and despite the odds they are going to save the world...with one of the more ridiculous solutions to ever grace the big screen.

Without the superbly funny acting, EVOLUTION would be a complete and utter waste of time, instead of the unoriginal sci-fi B-movie it really is. This plays like a Roger Corman script with better talent and a much bigger budget. What keeps this movie afloat is the chemistry between Duchovny and Jones. They work quite well together, playing up the other's strengths – Duchovny's dry wit and Jones's outrageous behavior. They make a great team, one I wouldn't mind seeing paired up in an action/comedy buddy picture. I was worried about how good a TV pitchman for 7-Up would be as an actor, but Jones was really quite convincing and funny. Moore is good as the ice-queen scientist who has the hots for Duchovny, yet I have to wonder how she thought constantly falling down was funny. Maybe she wanted to prove that she's more than just a dramatic actress, but constantly tripping over your own feet doesn't mean that you're doing physical comedy. It just shows a lack of coordination. Seann William Scott actually gets to stretch his usual annoying and stupid role a bit by giving Wayne some ambition and heart. His role here shows signs that he may not be trapped in high school roles forever.

Equally disappointing was the special effects. There was nothing new or innovative. Most of it looked like stuff that was cool 5-10 years ago. The creatures were definitely interesting looking, but what they had them do was not. I mean, come on, we've already seen the cute creature turn into something vicious a hundred times before. Not only should the people in the scene have known better than to coax it out, but so should the writers. I know it must be hard to come up with original ideas, but that's why they're paid the big bucks. The only sequence that was funny and exciting was the one in the mall with the alien flying through, terrorizing the patrons. Scott's karioke performance in an attempt to lure the alien back to their end of the mall was both painful and funny. Why the alien would kidnap a teenage girl from an enclosed dressing room, instead of just picking up one of the hundreds of people out in the open is beyond me. Oh wait...it's supposed to be funny. See, it keeps knocking on the door (like they know how to knock) and she thinks it's some rude woman too impatient to wait and then she opens the door to find this hideous creature. Get it? I guess I left my sense of humor at home.

All I can say is though this wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen, it is one of the more disappointing. One of the other good things about it is that it's only about an hour and a half long. Unfortunately, it feels like over two. If you like the leads then you'll probably enjoy this summer trifle. Duchovny, Jones, Moore and even Scott are better than they could have been considering the material they had to work with. Plus, you get to see David's butt, which leaves a distinct and memorable impression, so to speak.

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