Evolution


Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by:David Diamond, David Weissman, Don Jakoby
Starring: David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott, Julianne Moore, Dan Aykroyd
Released: July 12, 2001
Grade: B+

David Duchovny may well be the funniest man in Hollywood.  He proves that you don’t have to act like a total idiot (ala Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Rob Schneider) to attract the most laughter.  Anyone who’s seen Duchovny on The Larry Sanders’ Show will know exactly what I’m talking about.  You can never quite tell whether he’s joking or being serious and I enjoy being kept on my toes.

Evolution suits Duchovny’s style as it’s not a “laugh out loud” comedy.  Dr Ira Kane (Duchovny) and Dr. Harry Block (Jones) are lecturers at the Glen Canyon Community College in Arkansas.  One evening, a meteor crashes through the atmosphere and destroys the car of young Wayne Green (Scott) who’s working out in the desert.  Ira and Harry investigate the meteor and after taking a sample back to their lab, find single cell organisms living inside.  Is this history in the making?  Is this alien life?

Dreaming each of the Nobel Prize, they try to keep the discovery to themselves but government agents soon arrive and headed by scientist Dr. Allison Reed (Moore), they take command of the crash site.  Within a couple of weeks, the organisms begin a transformation - they are rapidly evolving and adapting to Earth’s climactic conditions.  In the space of one month, they’ve developed further than man has in 5,000,000 years and it’s only a matter of time before they overrun the entire planet.

That’s where our team of heroes comes in.  Ira, Harry and Wayne find the government is oblivious to the true gravity of the situation and realise that it’s up to them to save the world.

From the above description, you could be fooled in thinking this is a sci-fi drama but it’s actually a spoof comedy of the same genre.  Subtlety done, there’s a pleasant uneasiness to the whole film that I believe is it’s greatest plus - you’re never quite sure what you’re supposed to think of the movie because the plot is so ludicrous and yet the characters are so serious.

Ivan Reitman is a director who knows a thing or too about screwball comedies having made Six Days Seven Nights, Junior, Dave, Kindergarten Cop, Twins, Stripes, Meatballs and yes, Ghostbusters.  The film has a few too many similarities with Ghostbusters which I won’t detail for risk of spoiling some of the plot developments I haven’t mentioned.

Despite the hilarity, more could have been made of the material.  There were a few dead scenes and worthless characters detracting from the main storyline.  Despite lukewarm reviews from other critics, I still feel many will enjoy the freshness of Evolution and it’s certainly worth a look.  I’m curious as to what others will make of the whole concept.