Friday, June 8, 2001

Multiply the embarrasment

Movie: Evolution

Posted on Fri, Jun 8, 2001 at 4:00 AM

*1/2
Our Rating: 1.50

Ivan Reitman's new science-fiction adventure "Evolution" speaks more to the devolution of David Duchovny's career than to the genetic advancement of the movie's aliens. Perhaps Reitman was so desperate to create the next "Ghostbusters" and to take advantage of Duchovny's "X-Files" appeal that he forgot to read the embarrassingly awful script.

Duchovny and Orlando Jones (The Replacements, 7-Up commercials) play professors who stumble upon single-celled extraterrestrial life contained in an asteroid that recently crashed to earth. After examining the alien substance, they realize that it's not only multiplying at an alarming rate but also evolving. In a matter of weeks, the primitive organisms transform themselves into a variety of scary creatures just perfect for a summer action blockbuster.

In true "Ghostbusters" fashion, Duchovny and Jones are appropriately unprofessional and immature, while seemingly being the only ones who can save the earth from the threat of the aliens. They are also joined by Seann William Scott (American Pie) and Oscar winner Julianne Moore, in a role far beneath her talents. Dan Aykroyd even shows up, this time as the enemy -- the state's governor, determined to thwart the efforts of Duchovny's gang and go ahead with the military's plan to napalm the creatures out of existence.

Although this is clearly one of Reitman's worst efforts and a far cry from his off-the-wall comedies "Meatballs" and "Stripes," and his brilliant Dave, he doesn't deserve most of the criticism. That has to be hurled upon Don Jakoby, David Diamond and David Weissman for their writing. Jokes fall flat at an alarming rate despite Jones' best comedic efforts, and Duchovny seems out of place in a role that requires him to moon an Army general. The only time the actor seems at home is during tongue-in-cheek references to the "X-Files," such as when Jones asks whether the government should be notified of the discovery: "No government. I know those people."

Jones has a future with this type of role, but not even Bill Murray, the quintessential purveyor of this type of art, could make this script work. The digital effects are exciting, the pace is fast and even the story's premise is intriguing. But no amount of talent, be it a great director or actor, can save a screenplay this low on the evolutionary ladder.

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