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Start This 'Evolution' Without Me

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 8, 2001


    'Evolution' David Duchovny, Julianne Moore and Orlando Jones star in "Evolution." (DreamWorks)
I hold the following truths to be self-evident: You should not smoke. You should not steal. You should not murder.

And you should not see "Evolution."

There are so many degrees of bad, when it comes to movies, it would take some kind of divining rod to differentiate the subtle differences. In the absence of such an instrument, let me put it simply: "Evolution" is bad. How bad? Who cares? Do you ask how hot the fire is before running out of a burning building? No, you just run for safety.

So, ruuuuuuun!!!!

Director Ivan Reitman made "ghostbusting a household name," as DreamWorks gushes in its press kit for the movie. But here, he stands to give "Evolution" such a bad connotation he should get monthly checks from the fundamentalists.

So this meteor streaks toward Earth, carrying alien cootie organisms. It lands inside a cave in Arizona. And this meteorite starts spawning gross little cells that divide and multiply into disgusting worms, before evolving into scary, reptilian creatures. They proliferate like crazy, constantly changing to adapt to Earth's atmosphere.

As they speed through this evolutionary proscess, four badly drawn characters try to stop them. There's jaded scientist and community college professor Dr. Ira Kane (David Duchovny, whose movie-acting career is devolving before his eyes). And there's also Ira's woman-chasing college associate, Harry Block (Orlando Jones); Wayne (Seann William Scott), an aspiring, none-too-smart fireman; and Allison (Julianne Moore), an epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The less said about this plot, including a listless romance between Duchovny and Moore, the better. As if aware of the humourous shortcomings, Reitman sends in the special effects cavalry. The monsters in "Evolution" (created by the same folks who gave us "Jurassic Park" and "Starship Troopers") are so jarringly effective, they destroy the comedic texture of the film – which hardly exists in the first place.

Speaking of which, you never met such a comicaly uninspired foursome. Take Moore's character. Please. She bumps into glass doors, falls down stairs and topples over constantly. This routine is apparently so hilarious to Reitman, he makes her slip and trip throughout the movie. You don't laugh so much as feel her pain.

In next to no time, you'll find yourself rooting for the icky aliens.

As Wayne, Seann William Scott, the funny co-star of "American Pie" and "Road Trip," does have his moments. Best moment in the movie: when Wayne attempts to lure a winged alien with bad jungle bird calls (as in caw! Ca-caaaw!). Too bad this scene couldn't be extracted and used in an actual comedy. But for now, it must serve as a regretful footnote.

"Evolution" (PG-13, 105 long minutes) – Contains obscenity, sexual situations and no humor.


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