The first scenes of “Evolution,” whether intentional or not, offer an example of evolution gone wrong in the form of Wayne (Sean Williams Scott), an aspiring firefighter practicing for his exam. A meteor crashes, with fictitiously little damage, into his car a few yards away from the house he has lit on fire, and it rests in an underground cavern.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of Dreamworks

Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and Harry Block (Orlando Jones), science professors at the local community college, come to investigate and find a mossy substance and ooze coming out of the meteor. This ooze becomes the focus of the film, as it evolves from quick-dividing single-celled organisms to multicellular organisms overnight. The organisms waste no time in turning from flatworms, to various carnivorous beings that crawl and fly, to primates.

The government takes over investigations, and a clumsy Allison (Julianne Moore) steps into the picture, becoming the only continuing female presence through the film. The aliens escape from their “contained” meteor site, invading homes, country clubs and shopping malls. Ira, Harry and Allison must fight against the government and the aliens in order to save humanity.

While watching this movie, it takes some time to realize what one is supposed to actually laugh at. The comedy is often oddly timed, with little lead-up. Sexual puns abound: The meteor has “penetrated” the earth the scientists must “get a piece” of that asteroid.

Similarly, race-derived jokes are tossed in (for instance, one government official mistakenly refers to Harry as “Mr. Black”), seemingly just because the main characters are of a different race. The film is not without laughs it”s usually a case of simply laughing at the dumb guy or bodily functions. One of the most awkward moments is actually when director Ivan Reitman attempts to bring drama into the film through Duchovny”s character.

Acting is one of the downfalls as well. It is consistently inconsistent. Most of the characters have their moments of humor. Jones brings a certain charm to Harry at times, though the character he played in the 7-Up commercials leaks out.

Duchovny shows that he actually might have a sense of humor, unlike his “X-Files” personality. Unfortunately Julianne Moore has little to work with, which is reflected in her performance lines such as “I would have rocked your world” seem too unnatural. Sean Williams Scott seems to play the same character in every movie.

The aliens themselves are certainly interesting, especially in the post-flatworm stage. There is a great, colorful variety, from cute to vicious. Some clever parallels to the dinosaur age thematically and visually pervade.

Overall, “Evolution” fits right in with the current trend of mediocre comedies. The visuals prove to have been the priority for the filmmakers, as shown with the poor script. Reaching into the sci-fi genre, “Evolution” has a rather exciting climax, but most of the film stumbles as much as Allison.

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