Reportedly the most expensive comedy ever made, "Evan Almighty" certainly isn't the funniest. But neither is it the outright disaster the buzz would have you believe. There are some laughs to be had, but the genial proceedings eventually turn preachy.
Despite being the villain of "Bruce Almighty," Steve Carell's Evan Baxter is a beloved family man and newly elected Congressman in this sequel, whose only connection to the original is Morgan Freeman's supporting role as God. Here, the creator turns Evan's life upside-down when he asks him to build an ark, Noah-style. Try as he might, Evan can't ignore God's wishes, especially with all those animals shadowing his every move.
Carell wrings more enjoyment out of the premise and character than is in the script. But that only goes so far, and he can't grant it an edge. Given his work on "The Office" and in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," that's a blunt shame. Under the ham-fisted guidance of Tom Shadyac ("Patch Adams"), the movie veers toward collapse with some of the least subtle direction in cinema history.
Had "Evan" aimed higher "? say, not squarely at the grade-school set "? it might have neared the "Almighty." At least it has extras aplenty, with screens and screens of documentaries, interviews, outtakes and "? parents, be warned "? maddening clickable games.