Evolution (with the 7-Up Man)
Reviewed by Roger M. Wilcox
Rating: 6 Beans
n my review of _Dungeons and Dragons_, I made the hienous mistake of claiming that it starred the guy from the 7-Up commercials. It did not. Much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth resulted from this error. Over a hundred countries formally declared me their mortal enemy. The sky darkened with thousands of nuclear bombers circling above me, waiting with bated breath for their call to drop their cargoes and turn my house into a glow-in-the-dark crater.
So, it was with some small sense of vindication that I greeted the release of this year's movie _Evolution_, because this time, it REALLY REALLY DOES STAR THE GUY FROM THE 7-UP COMMERCIALS!!
In this film, David Duchovny plays an alien-hunting scientist who (at one point) worked for the government. This, of course, was a REAL stretch for his acting abilities, as he's NEVER played a role like this before, no no no no. Orlando Jones, the guy from the 7-Up commercials I gloated about so much in the last paragraph, plays a thinly-disguised version of Dr. Peter Venkman (only with more slapstick and less of that Bill Murry je-ne-sais-quois). Julianne Moore, also known as miss "we couldn't get Jodi Foster for the second Hannibal Lecter movie so we cast you instead," plays the generic love interest. The plot of the movie concerns a meteor which crash-lands on Earth, carrying with it a cargo of slimy mucus-covered alien bacteria that evolve at an astonishing rate.
As is usual in movies where biological evolution plays a role, this film got the science wrong in several places. Evolution was presented as a "ladder of progress" which always and inevitably leads to man-like creatures -- not as the diverse, branching tree of contingencies that it really is, in which us humans are but one out of the zillions of "natural experiments" that have happened to survive. I mean, I know this is a comedy and all, but if the popular media keeps on repeating the myth of the evolutionary "ladder," people might actually start to *believe* it. Another error came when Agent Mulder -- er, I mean, David Duchovny's TOTALLY un-Mulder-like characer, riiiiiight -- claimed the alien cells had "DNA with 10 base pairs." DNA, by its very definition, has 4 base pairs. If this alien gene-like molecule doesn't have 4 base pairs, then it isn't DNA.
But these small glitches pale in comparison to the ghastly, unpardonable sin the movie committed when IT GOT THE INGREDIENTS OF HEAD-AND-SHOULDERS SHAMPOO WRONG!! When Agent Mulder discovers that the aliens can be hurt by (spoiler warning!) selenium, one of the lesser characters announces that "selenium sulfide is the active ingredient in Head and Shoulders." And Mulder *believes* him. And in the movie, by some miraculous warping of reality, he turns out to be *right*! Gah. Unbelievable.
Selenium sulfide is NOT the active ingredient in Head and Shoulders. Zinc pyrithone is the active ingredient in Head and Shoulders. Selenium sulfide doesn't even appear in the "other ingredients" list of Head and Shoulders. In fact, NO form of selenium, sulfide or otherwise, appears ANYWHERE among the ingredients of Head and Shoulders. Agent Mulder's plan to thwart the hyperevolving alien menace by dousing them with Head and Shoulders should have resulted in nothing more than dandruff-free alien hair.
Overall, the whole movie gave me the impression that they were trying to do "another _Ghostbusters_", and failing at it. The slimy aliens, the property-destructive chase through the crowded building, the government stepping in and making things worse -- the only thing missing was decent comedy. David Duchovny is no Dan Akroyd. Julianne Moore is no Sigourney Weaver. And Orlando Jones is no anybody (except maybe Marlon Wayans -- ow! Stop hitting! Moooomm!!).
Although I do have to agree with Orlando Jones about one deeply important philosophical issue: there is ALWAYS time for lubricants.
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