Friday, June 29, 2007

evan almighty notes

Steven Greydanus may have summed this one up most succinctly with "Harmless, diverting, very mildly uplifting." Doesn't make me want to run out and see it. At a bit more length...
Compared to Bruce Almighty, Shadyac’s pop spirituality comes off a bit better in Evan, I guess. Certainly there’s nothing here as problematic as the earlier film’s “Be the miracle” pap, in which God suggested that people need to stop “looking up” and look to themselves instead. / Where Bruce intriguingly turned on Bruce surrendering to God’s will and coming to a real understanding of selfless love, Evan addresses obedience to God’s calling whatever the consequences, even if your family is against you, while at the same time emphasizing family solidarity with a too-familiar tale of a workaholic dad too and his long-suffering family.
His full review is here.

Carolyn Arends was much nicer - but then, she's a much nicer person. (Don't take it personally, Steven: she's a much nicer person than any of us.) CT Movies

She's not alone: the esteemed Jonathan Rosenbaum was at least this positive: "Idiotic, but it's so good-natured I didn't mind."

David Plotz at Slate was less charitable.
All that is compelling, moving, and profound about the Noah story has been systematically excised. In the Bible, God chooses Noah to survive because Noah is a righteous man. But Evan is faithless and stupid, and comes to believe in God only because God hammers him over the head with about 137 miracles. Any moron will believe when an omnipotent divine being appears in the back seat of his car and starts sending him pairs of lions and giraffes. The lesson of the Bible is that faith is hard, and unrewarding, and painful. Faith is belief when there are no giraffes.
... Evan Almighty also strips away anything Christian (or Jewish) about the story and replaces it with a message of universal hokum. God's entire instruction to his flock? Practice "acts of random kindness." (Look at the initial letters of that phrase.) That's not religion or even morality. It's a coffee mug slogan. The proof of Evan's redemption is that he starts to like dogs.
I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but Evan Almighty makes me miss The Passion. It was a sadistic, horrifying movie, about a bloody and terrifying book. But Mel Gibson captured the sense of the story, the ideas of suffering and sacrifice that undergird Christianity. Evan Almighty is evidence that Hollywood wants the trappings of faith in movies, but without the substance.

Thanks, PTC, for tracking down that last one. Ouch. I can't find Peter's own review, but here's a pithy comment from the A&F thread; "I actually thought about adding a line to my review to the effect that if there's anything really objectionable about Evan Almighty, it's that it makes such a bland, inoffensive and unchallenging movie about faith. I eventually decided, though, that it was better just to note the bland harmlessness of the film and let readers draw their own conclusions about whether this amounted to damning or faint praise."

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