View Date: June 8th, 2001

Cast :

David Duchovny Ira Kane
Julianne Moore Allison Reed
Orlando Jones Harry Block
Seann William Scott Wayne Green
Ted Levine Dr. Woodman
Ethan Suplee Deke

Directed by: Ivan Reitman 

Written by: David Diamond, David Weissman and Don Jakoby

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” 

This is a credo that I’ve quoted before, but that is very fitting in the cutthroat, capitalistic world of filmmaking.  Someone gets a good idea, and next thing you know, there are seven others before you can say, “I don’t care what you did last summer”.  It’s all about striking when the irons are hot.  Personally, I am a fan of originality, an idea that’s never been done before, or breaks new ground, will always catch my attention and score points, even if the final product is less than desirable.  In Evolution, Ivan Reitman flatters himself, and Barry Sonnenfeld, by attempting to recapture the spirit, attitude, and even the similar storyline, as his 1984 blockbuster Ghostbusters.  Unfortunately, he fails to infuse the same spirit, creativity and attitude as that film, or Sonnenfeld’s Men In Black.  The result is a film that utilizes some flashy effects and creatures on a story that has moments of humor surrounded by a story lacking an ounce of creativity or energy.

Duchovny and Jones are teachers at an Arizona community college who stumble upon their chance to make themselves famous when a meteorite crashes into their fair city.  The meteorite is witnessed by a wannabe fireman (Scott), who ultimately joins them in the quest to gain fame fortune, and stop the aliens who ooze out of the rock and evolve 200 million years in the span of a few hours.  I always knew my teacher’s weren’t just in it for the joy of teaching.  Of course, the government is involved, if for two reasons, it involves things falling from space and it sets up X-Files references for Duchovny (which work at first, but fade, like the movies potential later on). They are headed by General Woodman (Levine) and his cronies who bring in a CDC scientist (an inexplicably clumsy Julianne Moore) who is paired with Duchovny in yet another X-Files association (romantic tension, redhead, okay, we get it).  There will, of course, be chase scenes, and an ultimate showdown, which unfortunately adopts the current popular trend of focusing on gross out techniques in order to generate laughter.  This level of humor is usually reserved for films with sitcom stars in their first films, or for the younger viewers who enjoy that kind of thing.  There is a time, a place and an audience for it, I suppose, but this film is not it.  I am surprised that Reitman resorted to this, since his previous efforts had a sarcastic spunk without having to shock and disgust.  I am also surprised that he so shamelessly borrows/steals other films ideas, and doesn’t even improve upon them.  It seems he reviewed the tapes of all his star's movies, and then adapted at least one idea point into his film.  Witness, the unknown being in an elevator (Silence of The Lambs), the aforementioned X-Files references, and in reverse psychology, bringing in Ackroyd to play the other side of his Ghostbusters role as the doubting but politically concerned authority figure.  I am hard pressed to find an ounce of originality here, the absence of which would be mildly forgivable if the humor contained a mocking, spoofing attitude, or if it took an idea and improved upon it.  Reitman does neither, seemingly fearful to tread on any new ground, playing it safe, playing to his audience’s wishes, and wrapping everything up nice and neat.  The moments that the film does shine, a mall shootout, the following scene of singing in a jeep, and the after credits promo, show what this could have been and the film does finish stronger than it starts.  Unfortunately, by this point, the jokes have been worn thin by the setup, and the execution lacks any zing or life. The performances are acceptable, since this isn’t a film about taking anything seriously, the actors really don’t either.  Moore keeps falling down for some reason, Duchovny is Mulder in a teaching position, and Jones maintains his sarcastic nature (which works in the delivery of some of the movies sharper lines) but for every advance that the actors make, the failure of the script to take it over the edge, or to the next level, knocks the story back two steps.  

Ultimately, Evolution devolves the nature of science fiction spoofs by a few years, after Men In Black has laid the groundwork for something interesting.  The film aspires to recreate Ghostbusters for a new generation, mixing a bit of youth, and the current obsession with aliens and such.  But Reitman doesn't bring anything new to the table, showing that instead of learning and growing, he simply copied this one and phoned it in.  Whenever you blatantly borrow ideas and storylines from another film, there should be an unwritten rule that something must be added, some creative touch, and some individual edge that differentiates it from its inspirations.  Evolution fails to tread on anything new, introduce anything to inspire others, or generate enough laughter to recommend it as a fun little comedy to take your mind of the other madness in the world.  I just wish that the expedited rate of evolving could have taken place in this film, so I could have seen this 2-hour film in a few minutes and have been spared the pain of being dragged through the same films over again. ($$ out of $$$$$)

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