For everybody who loved Ghostbusters, Evolution is a retread of that movie. Same director, similar characters, story, and jokes, with the obvious difference being the replacement of ghosts with aliens. It is an amusing ride, but a terribly familiar one, which is why Evolution is disappointing. Ivan Reitman missed out on so much, and instead of being original, he essentially redid an old (but highly enjoyable) movie of his. Reitman (Six Days, Seven Nights, Father's Day) has a gift for comedy, but here frequently goes below the belt, and has a fascination with the colon, both human and alien. The premise of Evolution is that a meteor crashes in Arizona, landing in a small cavern. There are organisms on the meteor that begin evolving rapidly. The process that took billions of years on Earth is taking a matter of days for these aliens.

Local community college professor Ira Kane (David Duchovny, Return to Me, X-Files: Fight the Future) and women's volleyball coach and US Geological Survey volunteer Harry Block (Orlando Jones, Say It Isn't So, Double Take) are first on the scene, and they collect some samples. When it is clear that something big is happening, the military comes in and muscles Kane and Block out. CDC scientist Allison Reid (Julianne Moore, Hannibal, The Ladies Man) arrives to help the military, and quickly realizes that Kane and Block are the people she should be working with. After all, this wouldn't be a movie unless the underdogs come up with the way to defeat the aliens. Also tagging along is wannabe fireman Wayne Green (Seann William Scott, Dude, Where's My Car?, Road Trip), who really doesn't belong in the story but somehow ends up there anyway.

The real surprise in Evolution is that even with all the familiarity, the story is still amusing. Writers David Diamond and David Weissman (The Family Man) Don Jakoby (John Carpenter's Vampires) look at things in a decidedly nonserious manner. Everything is a joke, and nothing is sacred. Their apparent enthusiasm for the material translates easily onto the screen, turning Evolution into a wacky adventure with a bunch of misfits. The acting is on par with other movies like this; nothing spectacular, but nothing horrible either. Moore fares the worst. Reid's chief characteristic is that she is clumsy. So the script has Moore falling down, running into things, and dropping papers. Yawn. Duchovny (who quit X-Files presumably to expand his career and ironically is now kind of working for the government and fighting aliens) is a little better, although he doesn't do much. Scott plays the same role he does in every movie, as does Jones. The difference with Jones is that his roles here veer wildly from hilarious to assinine. Luckily for him, he's in the former category here. Block is a dreamer in way over his head. He realizes it, but continues on.

PDI, the same company behind the gorgeous animation of Shrek, handles the animation here. They have the daunting task of going from single-celled organisms all the way up the evolutionary ladder to mammals. PDI creates a convincing array of creatures, most of the slimy and disgusting. The detail is just as intricate on an inch-long flatworm as it is on the flying dinosaurs. Evolution ends with a blatant product plug, but Reitman handles it in such a way that it's never clear if they are actually supporting the product or mocking it. It's this kind of sensibility that makes Evolution a little better than it actually is.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 45 minutes, Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, and for sci-fi action.

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