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When Universal Pictures' comedy Bruce Almighty arrived at the summer box office on Memorial Day weekend in 2003, it blew audiences and box-office records away. Director/Producer Tom Shadyac had crafted yet another film that spoke to moviegoers' desires to suspend disbelief and spend time following extraordinarily funny people who were put in outlandish circumstances.
In the '90s, the talented filmmaker had made a household name out of Bruce Almighty's star, comedian Jim Carrey, with such comedy classics as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Liar Liar. Shadyac had also, along with comic actor Eddie Murphy, reintroduced a new generation to a lovable, unlucky college teacher known as Sherman Klump, a.k.a. The Nutty Professor.
Bruce Almighty would prove just as much a comic springboard for another man. The film was an explosive hit, earning almost one-half billion dollars in revenue at the global box office. In addition to the praise Carrey received, the world was quite enchanted by a polished, preening newscaster by the name of Evan Baxter. The chief rival of Jim Carrey's title character, Evan and his omnipresent smugness were rewarded with an interesting affliction by the all-powerful Bruce -- the ability to speak only in a torrent of babble while Evan was on the air.
And so was launched the film career of actor Steve Carell (The 40 Year Old Virgin). The comedian had previously found success on sitcoms and as a regular correspondent on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. Carell's scene-stealing performance led to parts in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and as the lead of NBC's hit comedy The Office. But it was the Second City alum's decision to portray a shy, romantically curious electronics store employee named Andy Stitzer in 2005's The 40 Year Old Virgin that would officially put Carell on the star map.
Four years after his Buffalo reporter had audiences doubling over, Carell returns to the role, playing the next one anointed by God to accomplish a complicated and hilarious mission in Shadyac's latest comedy: Evan Almighty.
Morgan Freeman (Bruce Almighty) -- bringing his unique brand of sly comedy and quiet wisdom -- also returns to the franchise as God, coming to intercede in the life of the Baxters with a command for the husband and father that will shake the very foundation upon which Evan stands.
Newly elected to Congress, Evan has left Buffalo behind to shepherd his wife, Joan (Lauren Graham, Bad Santa), and three sons -- Dylan (Johnny Simmons), Jordan (Graham Phillips) and Ryan (Jimmy Bennett) -- to the suburban town of Huntsville, Virginia, where they will begin the next chapter of their lives.
As the Baxters become ensconced in their enormous home nestled within the pristine hills of northern Virginia, Evan prepares for his first day on the job as the freshman congressman from New York. The casually spiritual politico offers a prayer to God to "change the world." Little does he know that The Man upstairs already has big plans for him.
Invited to co-sponsor a high-profile bill by one of the House's most powerful members, Congressman Long (John Goodman, The Big Lebowski), Evan is sure that his prayers have been answered. His crackerjack team of aides -- assistant Rita (Wanda Sykes, Curb Your Enthusiasm), chief of staff Marty (John Michael Higgins, The Break-Up) and intern Eugene (Jonah Hill, Knocked Up) -- couldn't be more thrilled at this opportunity, although Evan realizes it will take him away from his oft-neglected family. However conflicted, power is important to Evan, and so he accepts the offer.
Almost immediately, odd things begin occurring, and the self-centered representative's life becomes officially turned upside down. From mysterious deliveries of ancient tools and large parcels of wood to curious stalkings by birds of every feather, Evan is certain he's losing it. His certain descent into comic confusion culminates with a visit from a tall stranger claiming to be God who has one simple, albeit ludicrous, command: Evan must build an ark to prepare his friends and family for a mighty flood.
With the help of his three boys and armed with a first edition "Ark Building for Dummies," Evan begrudgingly begins to build the ship, not knowing what's in store once it's completed. To his utter dismay, animals of all shapes and sizes begin appearing two by two, until a menagerie of God's creatures inhabits the wooded forest surrounding his home.
That's not the only thing changing. Evan's normally manicured appearance heads south as his befuddled wife observes him transforming into a barely recognizable bearded, longhaired, robe-wearing weirdo. No amount of trimming, tussling or trickery keeps the beard from growing...and growing.
Despite being on the verge of losing everything he previously held precious, Evan continues to build for the flood that will either destroy the land or prove to be a figment of his imagination. And while all around him shake their heads and stare, one man must discover whether he is having an extraordinary midlife crisis or is truly onto something of biblical proportions...