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'Evolution': A Giant Step for Blobkind

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 8, 2001


    'Evolution' David Duchovny, Julianne Moore and Orlando Jones star in "Evolution." (DreamWorks)
In "Evolution," a meteor crashes to Earth, and before you can say "survival of the fittest," the space rock with its cargo of fecund organisms threatens to destroy the human race. So right away we know this movie will moldly go where only about 30,000 movies have gone before.

Within hours of the landing, a rank, sulfurous odor wafts from the crater, causing the actors to gasp, gag and hold their noses. Audiences will undoubtedly have the same reaction to this paramecium of a B-movie comedy, the very antithesis of Darwin's theory. In Hollywood, the unfit survive along with palm rats, cockroaches and other pests.

Ivan Reitman, the director of "Ghostbusters," seems to be regressing as both a filmmaker and a human being. He's never really held women in high regard, but here he reverts to the Neanderthal notion when it comes to his icy female lead (Julianne Moore): What Moore's solemn scientist needs is a good, um, a close encounter with . . . Not that she could get any satisfaction from either of her mumpish co-leads, David Duchovny and Orlando Jones, who play a couple of losers employed by a small community college near the site of the impact.

Jones, who plays an adjunct professor of geology, is much more interested in coaching – and showering with – the women's volleyball team. Duchovny's character, once a prominent biologist, landed in the small Arizona college town after developing a vaccine with every known negative side effect this side of death. But it quickly becomes clear that neither of them studied chemistry.

This mismatched twosome discover the still-smoking meteorite and visualize Nobel prizes in their future. Their dreams are dashed, however, when the military takes over the crash site, shuts out our heroes and prepares to nuke the blubbery globs of goo multiplying below.

Hilarity does not ensue. Actually, nothing ensues. This flat, dull movie is defined by its lack of ensue. Reitman and company blew their wad on the goopy special effects.

You're probably wondering, "Well, didn't they at least come up with a good fart joke or gag involving an anal probe?" Truth be told, Reitman's writers come up with the biggest blast of gas yet attempted onscreen. The blob that finally emerges from the crater cuts one right in Jones's face. See, he's on top of a firetruck about to give the blubbery critter a Head & Shoulders enema. (Talk about product placement – this shampoo gets rid of dandruff and Earth-threatening aliens.)

Jones, poor dear, is almost sucked into the creature's maw and comes out covered with syrupy goo. Duchovny, meanwhile, observes this with all the subtle wit of a Klingon.

In all this, they have the help of the movie's one saving grace – Seann William Scott as a dim country club pool boy who was there when the meteor struck. Clearly some of his scenes were cut short. Like one at the country club where a snob berates the boy for serving him a weak drink. So Seann says, "I'm going to make you a special drink." And that's exactly what he does. You probably think he spits in the mix, but no, he simply fills a coconut with booze and hands it to the guy.

This is typical of the missed opportunities throughout this purported comedy. Not to mention the insane casting: When was the last time Julianne Moore cracked you up?

"Evolution" (105 long minutes) is rated PG-13 for obscenity and sexual situations.


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