Not since John Denver played disciple to George Burns’ God in the Oh, God! series dating back to 1977 has Hollywood gone so non-secular. In the sequel to Bruce Almighty, which starred Jim Carrey (as Bruce Nolan) and introduced Morgan Freeman as the holy phantom dressed in white, Bruce’s rival, Evan Baxter, played by Steve Carell, has now become rookie Congressman Baxter ,who’s tapped by God to build an ark. He quickly morphs in Noah, with long white hair and beard and robes that embarrass his wife (Lauren Graham), staff (Wanda Sykes, Jonah Hill) and senior Congressman Long (John Goodman). Like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters, Evan is inexplicably compelled, and like Teri Garr, Graham portrays the perplexed wife who hasn’t a clue as to why her husband appears to be losing his mind.
Noah, of course, was a Biblical zookeeper, so pairs of computer-generated animals of all shapes and stripes (yes, zebras too) flock to the ark, which indeed has a purpose. God has warned Evan that a flood will occur on a particular date. Though Evan expects a massive downpour that will set the ark on its course, the water ultimately arrives from a different source. In the movie’s best scene, the ark barrels its way from Northern Virginia to the Capitol just in time to stop Long from passing a bill that would endanger the environment. Or something convoluted like that.
Carell generally can’t miss in any of his roles, but Evan is an almighty stretch that should send him right back to The Office where he belongs.