on June 08, 2001 by Michael Tunison
A curious blend of weird science and broad humor that never really gels, "Evolution" seems an unlikely specimen to emerge victorious in the Darwinian struggle for summer box-office domination. But as much as the sci-fi comedy appears to signal a continued devolution in the powers of "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters" director Ivan Reitman, the capable cast finds enough flashes of comic inspiration in the material to keep things fairly amusing most of the time.

   The tongue-in-cheek plotline follows two smart-alecky community college professors from northern Arizona (David Duchovny and Orlando Jones) who investigate the crash of a peculiar-looking meteor in the desert. Observing the phenomenally rapid growth and development of what appear to be simple alien life-forms at the site, the heroes realize they've stumbled onto an earth-shaking discovery. Their dreams of overnight fame are threatened, however, when the usual cadre of hard-nosed military types swoops in and takes over, aided by a klutzy government scientist with eyes for Duchovny's character ("Hannibal's" Julianne Moore). Naturally, it's up to the profs to save the world as the aliens evolve into increasingly complex and dangerous forms.

   Things start off enjoyably enough with a relaxed opening act focused mainly on banter between the dry-witted Duchovny (TV's "X-Files") and goofier Jones ("Say It Isn't So"), a combination that recalls the memorable teaming of Robert Culp and Bill Cosby on the '60s TV show "I Spy." Unfortunately, the relatively smart edge of the first section is replaced by butt jokes and slime-showering sight gags as various computer-generated monsters take center stage in the silly and formulaic second half.

   Reitman's attempts to turn the film into a new "Ghostbusters" grow downright desperate when he essentially re-stages his earlier blockbuster's climactic sequence in a desert setting, reminding us that it is the bold introduction of new adaptations, rather than the mere replication of old ones, that allows living things to evolve. Starring David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Orlando Jones and Seann William Scott. Directed by Ivan Reitman. Written by David Diamond, David Weissman and Don Jakoby. Produced by Ivan Reitman, Daniel Goldberg and Joe Medjuck. A DreamWorks release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, and sci-fi action. Running time: 101 min

Tags: David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott, Ivan Reitman, David Diamond, David Weissman, Don Jakoby, Daniel Goldberg, Joe Medjuck, DreamWorks, Comedy, humor, sci-fi, action smat, jokes, mosnters

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