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September 26, 2018

Evan Almighty

Religion has a huge element of why people don’t like this film.  Some people like religion, but it’s often hard to like a film about it, especially a comedy.  Is it making fun of your religion?  And at the same time, criticising you for not being religious enough.

“I go to church every week.”  they look at her.  “Every other week.”  More stares.  “I’ve been to church.”

Now, religious films sometimes get high ratings, but this appears to be a Christian film.  Almost a “faith based” film.  It’s not about the Buddha, or some exotic religion.  Orientalist film critics get bored of the religion of their grandmothers.  It’s like watching a “Humble and Kind” music video.

Not only does this film cover religion, it’s like a sermon.  God himself talks about “acts of random kindness.”

Now, for the critics who like religion in films, even Christianity, this can be offensive.  It can even seem like blasphemy, putting words in the mouth of God that aren’t in the Bible.

In addition to being religious, this film is also political.  It’s strange though, the politics don’t seem that far from those of the film critics.  Perhaps they feel under pressure to reject films with pro-environmental messages.  Furry Vengeance only got 7% on Rotten Tomatoes!

Okay, so what did Evan Almighty get?  23%.  Not bad, but much better than Furry Vengeance.  However, it’s much more liked by audiences.  86% of Google users liked this film.  People who work at supermarkets, on trains, ordinary people who don’t want to make or criticise films for a living, love this movie.

“Short on laughs?”  I thought it was pretty funny.  There are jokes that might not work in a joke book, but they work in context.  “When I shave it, it grows back.”  No, not funny outside of context, at all.

Another weakness of this film is that it’s a sequel, to Bruce Almighty.  What does Evan have to do with Bruce?  Completely different storyline, perhaps a different moral, a different set up.  I guess in both films, Morgan Freeman plays God.

The title should have been something like “Evan’s Ark.”  It could be a pun for his character arc.  Sure, it’s the same theme of the workaholic dad that we’ve seen in Elf and Hook and thousands of other family films, but it works.  I suppose it seems offensive when you apply it to a politician, and too close to home for critics when it goes to “roaming with the pack.”

We might think critics are impervious to peer pressure, because they don’t like the same films as audiences, but the truth is, they don’t see audiences as their peers.  They see themselves as the cool teenagers ready to impart wisdom about grown up tastes, while audiences are little children addicted to the simple stories of Peppa Pig and Teletubbies.

But what makes Evan Almighty a masterwork is that it meshes at three formulas together, and does it perfectly.  It’s a great faith based film (even if blasphemous to some), a cute family comedy of a workaholic dad, and a political thriller about standing up for your principles.  Okay, maybe not a thriller.

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