Evolution (2001)

evolution IMDb

Evolution is an average film. It has its moments, but the film eventually ends up being a disappointment that doesn’t take full advantage of its solid cast and great comedy director, Ivan Reitman (director of Ghostbusters, Twins and Kindergarten Cop).

David Duchovny stars as Ira. He is a college professor in Arizona who, along with his friend Harry (Orlando Jones) discovers a meteor that crashed into a cave nearby. The meteor begins to evolve at an alarming rate, producing multi celled organisms after a few hours and eventually large creatures. Eventually the US government gets wind of this and tries to shut Ira out. He is intent on making sure that he at least gets credit for finding the rock, something the government is not likely to allow. Ira eventually gets the assistance of a government scientist (Julianne Moore) and a wannabe fireman (Seann William Scott) whose car was destroyed when the meteor first hit, together they must stop this new species from taking over the planet.

This film was funny, but it can’t seem to decide what kind of comedy it wants to be. There are times when it feels like a spoof film like Flying High, but then there are times when it also feels like a science fiction film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Julianne Moore’s character, for example, is really clumsy and always falling over. This feels like something you would see in a Zucker film like The Naked Gun or Flying High, but it doesn’t seem to fit here at all.

On a positive, Duchovny is good. He is charming enough as the college professor who gets embroiled in an apparent alien invasion (sound familiar X-Files fans). Seann William Scott was riding the wave of his American Pie fame by basically playing Stiffler again. He is fine, but his schtick was starting to get old by the time this film comes out. The special effects are also very good. Evolution makes good use of puppets and costumes. The few times CGI is used to create these aliens, it is very obvious. The technology looks so dated by today’s standards.

This is a hard one to review because I didn’t expect much, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Rating: C-

Fun fact #2: parts of this movie were filmed at my college. Though perhaps this isn’t such a remarkable thing. If you’ve spent any extended amount of time in Southern California you’ve probably been somewhere that has appeared in movies or television. Still, I find these scenes particularly funny, because if you’ve ever been on the campus you’d know that the surrounding area looks nothing like what is shown on screen. The theatre department (who’s facade is used as a stand-in for the science building in this film) is depicted as overlooking a suburb backing onto a canyon, when in reality it just overlooks more buildings. In fact, you’d have to drive through quite a bit of Orange County to see a neighborhood like the one shown in Evolution. But hey, that’s movie magic, right?

This small personal-ish connection to Evolution is the most entertaining aspect of the movie for me. Overall this is an average flick despite a generally excellent cast. David Duchovny stars as a community college science professor who stumbles upon the discovery of the lifetime– alien life that evolves from single cell organisms to complex, intelligent lifeforms at alarming speed. This character, like all the characters in this movie, feels underdeveloped and slightly mean. Nobody is particularly likable, and any attempt at character development is shunted to the side in favor of stupid jokes. The only problem with this strategy is that the comedy does not deliver. This isn’t Caddyshack, where I just accept the one dimensional characters for who they are because the whole thing is hilarious. Evolution is mediocre across the board, so all of its failings are even more evident.

While this wasn’t a terrible way to spend part of my day, I doubt I’d ever watch this movie again.

Rating: C-

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