Directed by Ivan Reitman; starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott and Julianne Moore.
What do you get when you combine a dreadful script with a decent cast? Well, a surfeit of movies, not to mention television shows and off-Broadway theater. But for our purposes, let's talk about Evolution, Ivan Reitman's latest foray into busting unearthly creatures. This time, the man who brought us Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 is up against alien beings.
When a meteor that oozes gooey fluid lands in the Arizona desert, who ya gonna call?
Apparently, Bill Murray was busy working on Wes Anderson's new film, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Dan Aykroyd, who has matured significantly since his ghostbusting days, was needed to play the wacky governor of Arizona. So, it was up to Dr. Ira Kane (David Duchovny), an easygoing community college biology professor, along with his colleague, Dr. Harry Block (Orlando Jones), a geologist and the coach of the women's Division 3 volleyball team. Kane and Block are eventually joined by Allison (Julianne Moore), an epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Scott (Seann William Scott) a slow-witted wannabe fireman. While examining a specimen from the meteor under a microscope, Kane discovers that the gooey fluid is alive and dividing at an accelerated rate. Before they know it, the microscopic sludge has evolved into pre-historic killer birds, four-legged fang-bearing animals and other assorted creatures. They must stop the evolution before the aliens take over the world.
Unfortunately, Kane and Block are not just up against the slimy, ugly and deadly critters. They must also take on the American government, which provides Reitman the opportunity to allude to Duchovny's former day job as Agent Mulder. "I know about the government," he tells Block using his famed deadpan delivery. All that was missing was the hackneyed drum beat, "ba dum dum ... ching!"
Evolution is overflowing with this type of almost clever one-liner. Unfortunately, not even Duchovny's delicious deliveries can spice up the trite and predictable material. Neither can Block, or, for that matter, Sean William Scott, whose endearing performance proves he is a far more nuanced craftsman than his display in Dude, Where's My Car? might have you think. In fact, Julianne Moore's uninspired depiction of the dour scientist is the only performance that truly reflects the uninspired material. Unlike Sigourney Weaver, the cellist who was not only romantically linked to Bill Murray but also channeled evil demons in Ghostbusters, it seems like Moore's character was developed simply to give Kane someone to smooch at the end of the film. And, to make matters worse, she acts like she knows it.
We can only hope Reitman realizes that his film, like Moore's phlegmatic performance, is also dispensable and doesn't decide to make Evolution 2.
- JoAnne Steglitz