Australian Council on Children and the Media

Evan Almighty

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Not recommended under 5, PG to 8 due to scary scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Evan Almighty
  • a review of Evan Almighty completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 September 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to scary scenes
Children aged 5-8 Parental guidance recommended for children under eight due to scary scenes
Children over 8 OK without parental guidance

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Evan Almighty
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Some scenes may frighten young children
Length 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Evan Almighty opens with Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), Buffalo’s TV news anchorman celebrating his newly won election to Congress. Evan along with his wife Joan (Lauren Graham) and three sons Dylan (Johnny Simmons), Jordan (Graham Phillips) and Ryan (Jimmy Bennett) sets off for Capitol Hill. Evan begins his first day as a Congressman with the good intentions of both changing the world and spending more time with his family. However, he is soon approached by Congressman Chuck Long (John Goodman), who is seeking Evan’s sponsorship in the passing of a new bill which, unbeknown to Evan, will cause the destruction of forest land and wildlife. Evan is inundated with work and his good intentions of spending more time with his family fly out of the window. Joan prays to God to help the family grow closer together, while Evan asks God to help him in his fight to change the world. The next morning Evan wakes up to find a large wooden box in his hallway filled with rather ancient woodworking tools.
From here on Evan is plagued by strange occurrences including large stacks of lumber being delivered to his front yard, animals appearing in his yard two-by-two and large flocks of birds flying through his office window to perch upon his shoulder. Evan is visited by God (Morgan Freeman), who informs Evan there will be a flood, and that he must build an Ark and fill it with two of every kind of animal.
Initially Evan refuses to believe and ignores God’s directive, but he eventually relents and agrees to build the ark and his real adventures begin.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The Bible story of Noah’s Ark; political corruption; destruction of the environment

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film’s scenes of slapstick violence and accidental injury are mostly mild.  The exception to this was the violent nature of the flood, which was more threatening and intense. Examples include:  

  • Evan falls to the ground when he is surrounded by a flock of birds. He is pecked on the hand by a woodpecker.
  • Evan is cruel to a dog, calling it names and taking water away from it.
  • While building the ark, Evan drops a large log on his foot causing him to scream. He also hits himself in the face with a saw, overbalances and falls from the top of a high pile of lumber, hits his head on a beam of wood and hits his hand several times with a hammer, screaming in pain each time.
  • Evan screams when his wife pulls a splinter from his hand.
  • Congressman Long subtly threatens Evan by suggesting that “The pack kills the loner for the good of the pack.”
  • Flocks of birds and animals, including lions, follow Evan into a crowded congress room. People run out screaming, and Evan is manhandled and forcibly removed from congress.
  • A news reporter screams when he comes face to face with two roaring lions.
  • Several police officers threaten to forcibly remove Evan and his family from his ark.
  • A dam breaks releasing an unstoppable wall of water that washes away all in its path. People run screaming from the oncoming wall of water, they run into the ark which is tossed around like a toy boat throwing people against each other and knocking them against walls.  No one is injured. Numerous houses are washed away by the wall of water. The ark crashes into houses and is swept over a waterfall. The ark looks in danger of crashing into a bridge, but at the last moment a giant wave pushes the ark over the top of the bridge.
  • An Alpaca spits green saliva into Congressman Long’s face.  
  • Two wolves bare their teeth and snarl at Congressman Long.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group are likely to be particularly scared by:

  • A scene involving two giant tarantulas and two snakes crawling over Evan’s shoulders while he is driving his car.
  • The scene where floodwater destroys houses, the ark crashes into houses and people are thrown about on the Ark.
  • The reporter being roared at by two lions.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Most children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

Evan Almighty contains a few mild sexual references including:

  • A young male assistant tells Evan “I love you.” It is meant as admiration, but Evan appears unsure of how to take the comment. The young man then asks Evan if they could hang out socially.
  • A billboard is shown depicting the film “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”.
  • Evan’s son makes reference to a duck’s penis being as long as its body.
  • Reference is made to Evan going through adult puberty.
  • When Evan is asked about his long hair Evan states that he is “trying to spice up his love life.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • When Evan goes to walk out his front door he is clothed, but as he steps outside he finds that he is nude (Evan’s bare chest and abdomen are seen). A female postal worker stares at him.

Use of substances

There are references to use of substances, including:

  • A woman opens a bottle of champagne, but no one is seen drinking it.
  • An open bottle of wine is depicted on a dinner table along with two glasses containing wine, but no one is seen drinking. 
  • Reference is made to Evan “shooting up Rogaine.”
  • Evan is asked if he is on something - “Is it megagrowth hormones?”
  • Evan is asked if he is on “that Fen Phen.”

Coarse language

Evan Almighty contains occasional mild coarse language, name calling and putdowns example include:

  • Flea maggots; nut case; stupid; insane; stupid; jerks; jack ass; sucker
  • God; O my God; by God; good God;
  • “What the …;” “Son of a…”   
  • A man makes reference to a baby being cute, and goes on to make reference to the baby’s mother by stating “Not bad for such an ugly woman,”

In a nutshell

Evan Almighty is a family comedy based loosely on the bible story of Noah’s Ark.  Children over five who enjoy stories that involve animals, slapstick comedy and toilet humour will find the film particularly appealing.

The main message from this movie is that an individual has the power to change the world through one act of random kindness (ARK) at a time.
Values that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include trust, kindness, self-sacrifice, perseverance, and environmental awareness.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • How can individual acts of random kindness change the world?
  • How can having a position of great power and responsibility affect others?
  • Did Evan re-evaluate his ideology of being “successful, powerful, handsome, and happy? What caused him to change his belief?
  • How did building the Ark bring Evan and his family closer together?

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