Friday, January 11, 2008

Evan Almighty – One Bizarre Film

I watched a lot of movies over the holidays. I was actually home for four straight weeks, sandwiched between out of country trips (I am now flying over Alaska en route to Singapore for two weeks of trainings for Oracle – Singapore, then Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland). And with the cold winter nights, my wife and I settled into a pattern of playing a game of Scrabble and then watching a movie.

So we went through lots of movies. And one of the strangest movies I watched was Evan Almighty. This movie is a follow on from Bruce Almighty. In Bruce Almighty, God (played with obvious relish by Morgan Freeman) bestows upon Bruce (Jim Carey) all his godly powers, and Bruce makes a hash of things.

In Evan Almighty, Freeman reprises his rather thin role as God, and this time Steve Carrel is assigned the role (by the movie's director and by God) of Noah.

A newly-elected Congressman (previously a TV anchor, and a shallow, obnoxious, self-centered fellow), Evan has just moved to Washington, and is settling with his family into a big suburban home.

Well, I am not going to go through the whole plot. God leaves Evan little choice but to wear a long beard and flowing robes, and to build an ark. Why? Is the world going to flood all over again? Have we been that bad?

Undoubtedly, we (or the powers that be that are ruining our world) have been that bad. But in this case...


The bad guy is a corrupt Congressman, who has allowed contractors building a dam nearby to cut corners. So at the appointed time, the dam breaks, the water comes surging down the valley, and – Hallelujah! – Evan, his family, the thousands of animals who have gathered in twos from around the world, and some lucky few people who boarded the ark in a panic, are saved.

As a bonus, the bad Congressman is exposed and punished.

As a double bonus, he is no longer a jerk and his kids finally like him.

So why do I call this movie bizarre?

OK, let's revisit what just "happened":

  • God knows that the dam was going to break on September 22 at mid-day.
  • God goes to Evan and calls on him to build an ark (giving him no choice in the process). A really big ark.
  • Animals came from all over the place (or maybe they just emptied out of the DC Zoo?) to get on the ark.
  • The "flood" does not sweep the world, it only devastates a big chunk of the Washington DC metro area.

So I found myself asking afterwards:

  • Why did all those animals get on the boat if the flood wasn't going to wipe out the rest of their species?
  • Why didn't God tell Evan to evacuate the Washington DC metro area?

In other words, the unspoken subtext of this movie is that God chose to let the broken dam kill thousands of people (all of them sinners?) by instructing Evan to build an ark.

There is no other way to interpret the effect of that enormous wave of water crashing through the suburbs and DC.

Yet this awful consequence is left entirely unmentioned in the movie. No mourning of the destruction and lives lost.

And Evan is the hero...for saving the lives of oh maybe 100 people when he could have saved 1000s.

I think that is just downright bizarre.

1 comment:

Joel Garry said...

Depeche Mode got it right. God has a sick sense of humor.