Can Jesus Save Steve Carell?

Steve Carell needs a miracle. Photo: Courtesy of Universal.

Judging by the bad buzz and dire tracking numbers on Evan Almighty, Steve Carrel’s overnight star-power will be tested when his $200-million-plus family comedy opens this Friday. Universal has been praying that it won't flop — and aggressively marketing the biblically inflected comedy to Christian groups. They’ve partnered with co-producers Grace Hill Media to create ARKAlmighty, an online faith-based volunteer outreach community, and organized Christian rock and gospel concerts and radio broadcasts to promote the film. Even Pat Robertson’s Hollywood-bashing 700 Club has a special online section devoted to the film, “Evan Almighty: The Biblical Facts Behind Noah’s Ark.” (It also helps that director Tom Shadyac has been vocal about his recent conversion to Christianity.) Of course, Hollywood has been finding God ever since The Passion of the Christ. The real question: Will God save Produce Pete? A look at the Christian press, after the jump.

Lee Wilson, Grace Centered Magazine:

“[T]his movie is family friendly to the point that it would have probably been considered family friendly in the year 1950. This movie has grown from the Christian overtones of Bruce Almighty to a character who becomes outright religious and reads Bible passages out loud … The movie is delight and will have you laughing about scenes that passed several minutes ago. And when you walk out, you'll feel refreshed to walk your Christian walk.”

Bill Reichart at Provocative Church:

“As a movie goes — this movie was hilarious. Very funny! The test of FUNNY is that my kids and wife were laughing so hard they were crying, that means it was really funny! … I thought at first [the biblical theme] might be offensive. But gladly there was no weird, New Age messages or bizarre theology.”

More positive buzz on the film can be found in World Magazine and ThinkChristian.net.

Not everybody is happy, though. The Christian blog The Parish was furious to discover that the magazine Christianity Today had allowed Evan Almighty to purchase a cover ad from the magazine. And the blog Watcher’s Lamp (tagline: “Monitoring spiritual deception and world events from a Biblical perspective”) admonishes thusly: “At the end of the day, the term ‘harlot’ seems too polite a term to describe the merchandising of the flock.”

One also wonders what this guy thinks of the whole thing, and whether he’s considering suing anytime soon. —Bilge Ebiri