Evolution (2001) Movie Review

Evolution is an odd movie. It’s a movie with science fiction elements and bathroom-level humor. The characters are cardboard cutouts and not a single one of them should be doing what they’re doing in the movie. For instance, Orlando Jones’ character, a geologist and professor, acts, talks, and has the motives of a 5-year old child; David Duchovny’s Ira Kane is supposed to be a biologist and professor, but acts, talks, and has the motives of a 6-year old child (just slightly older and more mature than Jones’ Harry Block); Julianne Moore is Allison Reed, a CDC expert, who looks like an adult, but has the intellect to rival Block and Kane. What happened? Why did the filmmakers give the actors such ridiculous roles and personalities? Is seeing Moore’s Allison acting like a clumsy oaf supposed to be funny? (Oh ho, look, Moore is this serious actress, right? And she’s, like, tripping everywhere! Now that’s funny! Uh, no, it wasn’t.)

Evolution is about a meteorite that crashes to Earth and into a cave. When two scientists/professors (Duchovny and Jones) from the local community college investigates, they discover alien lifeforms inside the rock. It turns out the alien lifeforms are quickly evolving into something, well, alien, since their evolution rate seems to be millions of times faster than humans. Ira and Harry see this as their ticket to fame and fortune. Block wants the fame part and Ira wants to get out of the community college and back to the big time, where he has been exiled from. Before you can say, “Holy E.T.!” the Army is involved, and the two scientists from the local college are kicked to the curve. Suddenly alien creatures start appearing all over town, eating citizens and causing panics everywhere.

Director Ivan Reitman, responsible for a lot of funny movies in the past, tries for another Ghostbusters with Evolution, but comes out mostly flat and unsuccessful. This may be due to the simple reason that these actors aren’t, well, they just aren’t meant for comedies. The biggest example of this is Julianne Moore, a serious actress grossly out of her arena. Duchovny worked as the dry FBI agent Fox Mulder on the TV show X-Files, but he once again proves that he has very little charm or talent unless working with the words and direction of excellent writers like Chris Carter and the other staff writers of X-Files. Orlando Jones provides the movie’s only real funny lines and moments, but he seems to be playing the black sambo while at the same time lamenting the role of blacks in white society. It reminds me of a kid complaining about the evils of capitalism while working at a MacDonald’s earning $6.00 an hour.

With characters that act like little children regardless of what profession they’re supposed to be engaged in, you can expect plenty of penis, fart, diarrhea, and ass jokes, and you get plenty of them with Evolution. In fact, I’m pretty sure the movie covered every single toilet humor subject and even dived into some that I’ve never heard before. In-between the childish banter and sex innuendos (straight and gay, by the way) there’s plenty of cgi monsters to keep us interested — unless you’re under 10 years old and was entertained before by all the toilet humor. The cgi monsters are all silly looking, but at least they’re well-done, thanks to today’s advancement in computer effects. Sean William Scott also shows up as a flunked out fireman who gets involved in the craziness.

That’s not to say Evolution is a bad film. It’s a mediocre film that has no idea what it’s trying to be, and the result is a movie that tries for everything. It works on some level if you enjoy mindless fun. The creature effects are excellent and there are funny moments, although there’s a feeling that the movie tries way too hard to be funny. Had this been an all-out dumb comedy it might have succeeded much more than it does in its present form.

The whole movie is very silly and unless you completely shut down your brain and ignore all the plot holes and stupidity going on, you won’t enjoy it. For instance, after about 100 or so Army soldiers are killed by one of the alien monsters, the movie reverts back to fart and enema jokes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be funny after what I just saw. Movies like Ghostbusters worked because it was silly and nothing onscreen was very serious; it never killed people for laughs (in fact, I don’t remember anyone ever dying in Ghostbusters).

Evolution is just too unsure about what it wants to be and the result is a mess.

Ivan Reitman (director) / Don Jakoby, David Diamond, David Weissman (screenplay)
CAST: David Duchovny …. Dr. Ira Kane
Julianne Moore …. Dr. Allison Reed
Orlando Jones …. Harry Block
Seann William Scott …. Wayne Grey

Buy Evolution on DVD