Friday, June 29, 2007

Heaven Help Us

What do you get when you cross hip religion, millions of dollars, and an NBC sitcom? Bad Theology, also going by the title Evan Almighty these days. This latest film by the crew that brought us Bruce Almighty tells the tale of side character Evan Baxter from the previous film as he, like Bruce, comes face to face with God.

Evan Baxter has recently been elected to Congress. The job is a big one and as he contemplates the grand desire he has to "change the world" (which just so happened to be his campaign slogan) he pauses to pray for God's help. But his and God's ideas of how Evan can affect change are not the same and God's command for Evan to build an ark brings on a "comedy of biblical proportions."

The reality, however, is that despite its clever tagline Evan Almighty really isn't that funny. Both Lauren Graham and Steve Carell were rather plastic in the film. I found nobody, save for the monkeys on the ark, very convincing. The attempts at humour were not just cheap, they were inaffective, and the millions invested in this film did little more than make a big screen zoo out of a potentially interesting movie.

But beyond the basic aesthetics this is a film that is marked by terrible theology. That is not to say that a film that doesn't acknowledge salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is worthless. But rather it is to say that if Hollywood insists on making movies based on the Christian faith they should at least get the basics right.

Sure the god of Evan Almighty (played by the usually brilliant Morgan Freeman) is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. But even this god misunderstand the reality of the true story of Noah, which He supposedly inspired. The whole story of Noah's Ark is recast, here, in terms quite absurd. Noah, if you read the real story, is about God's judgment on sinful mankind, and His salvation of a righteous man named Noah. In this movie the Biblical account is explicitly restated to be about "love." How ridiculous!

What's worse is that the movie has been marketed to Christians. Finally Hollywood has realized that Christians can bring them in some big bucks if they'd make movies that appeal to them. But is this the best they can do? If the period of "Christian" films post Narnia and Lord of the Rings includes this type of bad art and bad theology then all I can say is "Heaven help us!" This is not a Christian film, friends, and's not a very good film at all.

So what do you get when you cross hip religion, millions of dollars, and an NBC sitcom? Jokes that aren't funny, acting that isn't good, an annoying Wanda Sykes, and a "comedy" of Unbiblical proportions.

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