Australian Reviews and Articles

Frighteningly unfunny
Rating: PG.
Starring: David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott.
Critic's warning: Coarse language, sexual references, violence, scary flying dinosaurs, alien attacks and bad acting.
Critic's rating: 3 out of 10.

Reviewed by Rob Lowing

david duchovnyDisgraced former Pentagon scientist Dr Ira Kane (Duchovny) has been exiled for the past five years at an Arizona community college.

So when Kane and his equally ambitious buddy Harry (Jones) stumble across living alien organisms, they dream of Nobel Prize-sized glory.

But suddenly these organisms start growing. The Pentagon and a snooty adviser, Dr Allison Reed (Moore), move in. Ira and Harry are kicked off limits.

Then the aliens begin evolving into really scary creatures: flying dinosaurs, vicious amphibians, malevolent insects.

The Governor of Virginia (Dan Aykroyd) is desperate. So who you gonna call?

Much as it would like to be, the saggy, sloppy, unfunny Evolution is no Ghostbusters. The attempt to turn the three doctors and slacker fireman Seann William Scott into cool alien-busters just stalls on take-off.

Duchovny was hardly known as Mr Chuckles on the hit The X-Files television series. He alternates here between undisciplined smirking and the kind of blankness which makes you wonder whether he's thinking about his laundry.

Scott bounces through as another Dude, Where's My Car? dimwit but talented Jones (Bedazzled) struggles with the seemingly endless bottom jokes.

The one who suffers the most is poor Moore, slumming it after fine work in Hannibal. In one courtroom scene, Allison appears in a blouse which - for no reason whatsoever, except maybe inept continuity - is steadily unbuttoned. Of course, top government scientists appear in public like that.

Moore is also made to fall over at every opportunity. However, unlike falling-down maestros Sandra Bullock (Miss Congeniality) and Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous), Moore has no talent whatsoever in this department.

The lousy comic timing of all concerned is really shown up by the only decent jokester, original Ghostbusters star Aykroyd.

So, if adults are going to find this flat and tedious, what about the kids? In the cinema lobby before one screening, a hopeful mum told her tot, "It's a comedy about aliens. It'll be funny."

No, actually, it'll be scary. Think Jurassic Park, with big things with lots of teeth lunging at humans. You can forget the littlies and sensitive under-10s right away. And forget about any comparisons to joyous Men In Black. The special effects here are nothing to cheer about. Some, like the dinosaurs, range from competent to impressive. But the rest look like either painted wooden puppets or brown blobby cake mixture with tentacles.

The film takes pointless detours, like Ira's encounter with a former girlfriend, and delivers bad jokes, mostly about chicks taking their blouses off in public places.

In a bizarre twist, there's often a long silence after a bad joke as though the film-makers are waiting for the canned laughter. Maybe Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman is waiting for a pat on the back. But with a crashing soundtrack obviously straining to pep up a boring, predictable plot, these film-makers will wait in vain.

The Sun-Herald, July 15 2001

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