Evan Baxter is on his way to climbing the political ladder, having just been elected to Congress. This is great! After all, the family now has their cool Hummer, their giant house, their perfectly green lawn- oh, one minor thing, though, everyone is going to have to make some sacrifices. Most specifically, their time together. Which leads the family to pray that God- if He exists- would bring the family closer together.
And God chooses to answer that prayer.
The next day a load of lumber, compliments of Go 4 Wood, is dropped on Evan’s doorstep, and he gets a visit from the Big Guy who says He wants Evan to build and ark.
It’s not going to happen. Eavn’s got a bill to read, a world to change, and he needs to find some way to fit in time for his wife and three boys. But what Evan soon learns is that God is not a man to say no to, which begins a hilarious sequence of events that eventually convinces Evan that maybe he should do what God told him to do.
So, Evan and his suburban sons start hammering and sawing and building the ark. Along the way, we see Evan begint o go through some changes- physically and emotionally. Soon the image oriented politician turns into a hairy, “dirty” old testament- looking man being swarmed by the media. And soon we must ask the question, will Evan keep the faith as Noah did, when everything seems to be crashing in around him?
I’m always skeptical of portrayals of the Lord, especially when they have a modern twist to them. Commonly movies of this nature would be irreverent towards God, and would make religion seem cheep. This movie surprised me, though. From their clever interweaving of the original Noah story into this modern tale, to their positive biblical message, I was pleasantly enjoying watching the film.
The God character is portrayed by the epic Morgan Freeman, who challenges Evan to rethink his priorities, strengthen his family ties, and take greater social responsibility. God tells Evan that, to change the world he needs to start by committing one little act of random kindness (A.R.K.), at a time. Even viewers a little uncomfortable with the idea of an anthropomorphized God will find that this film isn’t out to be offensive. In fact, the crux of the whole movie is explained by God, to Joan when he describes that when people pray for patience, courage or a closer family, they want the end result rather than opportunities to develop those virtues and strengthen character.
Morgan Freeman’s God is loving, powerful, and totally in charge (When Evan explains that taking time to build an ark isn’t exactly flagged on his Day-Timer, God laughs at the notion that anyone’s plans should take precedence over His own.) Humorous biblical references manage to avoid irreverence, while serious moments feel more poignant than preachy.
This fictional tale shows how the Lord will often guide us through trials rather than supernaturally keep them from happening, which was really refreshing. It rightly illustrates that God answers prayers in unexpected ways, and that there’s usually a reason for difficulties and suffering—or at least a chance to grow in the midst of it. Evan doesn’t have access to a heavenly blueprint with all the details, but God assures him that whatever He commands is motivated by love.
The Baxters are loving parents of three rather respectful sons. The fact that the family suffers from Evan’s habitual workaholism (“New house, same old Dad”, says the eldest teenage son) exposes the hole left by a father who may mean well but fails to put his family first. Joan demonstrates love and commitment to her husband through the film, and stands by his side after a brief moment of frustration when she packs up the kids and leaves. Similarly, his oldest son refuses to leave Evan when things get tough.
I do like the movie’s representation of God, but it’s not totally “sinless”. There is a line that God “lives in” all created things. Freeman’s deity also explains that the decision to destroy all life on earth in Noah’s day was an act of love, not wrath, when we know the real story shows both God’s wrath and love.
In the movie we do have a Father who’s rather clueless in the beginning, and his famous paternal advice to his boys is “image is everything”, but he learns by the end of the movie that this philosophy is warped.
A turn off for many viewers would be the wildlife facts that crop up twice in the film. One of Evan’s sons watches “too much Animal Planet” is the comment by his mother when he references duck anatomy which is a bit uncomfortable for some. Also worth noting is that Evan unknowingly walks out of his front door naked (nothing is seen) and is observed by a female mail carrier. Oh yeah, and a mild, offhand comment is made about Evan being “on something”?
The “violence” in this film consists of a hilarious building the ark scene which involves Evan smashing his thumb with a hammer (several times), falling off of things, and just being generally clumsy around the building site.
The term for a donkey is used twice in the movie, once in proper-though unnecessary- context, and once applied to a man. Other language issues involve several gasps of “oh my god,” and people being interrupted before completing the phrases “what the …” and “son of a ….”
It has been said that, not since Bill Cosby’s classic “Noah” routine has the account of the great flood inspired such accessibly funny content. But this movie does something more than entertain us. It touches on messages about family and religious faith that resonate because they contain an element of truth. Granted, the spiritual nuggets here are not as potent as movies like Fireproof, The Grace Card, or Second Chance, but it was a wonderful watch none the less.
If you want a fun comedy to watch sometime, this is a movie most viewers will enjoy.