Evolution, 2001, ¾ star

Multiply the embarrassment

Duchovny takes a nosedive with alien-invasion dud

From The Orlando Weekly, 2001

Ivan Reitman’s new science-fiction adventure speaks more to the devolution of David Duchovny’s career than to the genetic advancement of the movie’s aliens. Perhaps Reitman was so desperate to create his next Ghostbusters and to take advantage of Duchovny’s X-Files appeal that he forgot to read Evolution’s embarrassingly awful script.

Duchovny and Orlando Jones (The Replacements, 7-Up commercials) play professors who stumble upon single-celled extraterrestrial life in an asteroid that recently crashed to earth. After examining the alien substance, they realize it’s not only multiplying at an exponential rate but also evolving. In a matter of weeks, the primitive organisms transform into a variety of scary creatures just perfect for a summer action blockbuster.

In true Ghostbusters fashion, Duchovny and Jones are appropriately unprofessional and immature, while seemingly being the only ones who can save the earth from the aliens. They are also joined by Seann William Scott (American Pie) and Oscar-winner Julianne Moore, in a role far beneath her talents. Dan Aykroyd even shows up, this time as the enemy – the state’s governor, determined to thwart the efforts of Duchovny’s gang and go ahead with the military’s plan to napalm the creatures out of existence.

Although this is clearly one of Reitman’s worst efforts and a far cry from his off-the-wall Stripes and his brilliant Dave, he doesn’t deserve most of the criticism. That has to be hurled upon Don Jakoby, David Diamond and David Weissman for their writing. Jokes fall flat at an alarming rate despite Jones’ best comedic efforts – he does about as much as humanly possible to get laughs from anal alien humor – and Duchovny seems out of place in a role that requires him to moon an army general. The only time the actor seems at home is during tongue-in-cheek references to the X-Files, such as when Jones asks whether the government should be notified of the discovery. “No government. I know those people.”

The performances are competent, and Jones clearly has a future with this type of role, but not even Bill Murray, the quintessential purveyor of this type of art, could make this script crackle. The digital effects are exciting, the pace is fast and even the story’s premise is intriguing. But no amount of talent, be it a great director or actor, could save a screenplay this low on the evolutionary ladder.

Copyright 2001 © Orlando Weekly