Replacing Jim Carrey of 2003's "Bruce Almighty" with Steve Carell as the chosen one may be part of the problem. Carrey's relentless hamminess often saves his weakest movies. And it might have saved "Evan Almighty," although lack of laughs in Steve Oedekerk's screenplay and paint-by-numbers direction by Tom Shadyac are certainly no help.
What "Evan" has is a big special effects budget and excellent animal handlers which make the Noah's Ark stuff Cecil-B.-DeMille spectacular. What it doesn't have is Carrey. Carell is cute, but without an army of supporting comedians ("The 40 Year Old Virgin," "Little Miss Sunshine"), he has a hard time carrying a feature.
The story has uptight news anchor Evan Baxter (Carell) from "Bruce" becoming a congressman before getting the word from God (Morgan Freeman, again) to build an Ark. The grand design by the Lord is ultimately to upset shady land-deal plans by corrupt Congressman Long (John Goodman), which is where the flood comes in. Along the way, Evan does shtick with ever-growing facial hair, un-removable Biblical robes and arduous Ark-building. As the laughs slip away, seriousness sets in. Confused wife (Lauren Graham) shows shades of the spouse in "Close Encounters of a Third Kind" when taking the kids and running away from her husband's endof the-world wackiness.
Best stick with "Bruce."