Evolution -- Shades of Ghostbusters

DREW McANULTY

, Last Updated: 12:06 PM ET

ev-o-lu-tion n. A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.

im-i-ta-tion n. Something derived or copied. Unoriginal.

In its first draft, Evolution was written as a serious sci-fi dealing with the theory an alien invasion would come not from little green men in spaceships, but via one-celled creatures hitching a ride on a meteor.

Somehow director Ivan Reitman saw how such an invasion, if looked at in just the proper slanted light, could be humorous, and unleashed screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman to help original author Don Jakoby turn his thriller into a comedy.

Problem is, the writers simply gave Reitman something they knew he would be hard-pressed to turn down -- a thinly veiled version of his megahit Ghostbusters.

In Ghostbusters 3, er, sorry, Evolution, former X-Files star David Duchovny and Orlando Jones (Bedazzled, Say It Isn't So), play community college teachers in Arizona who figure they've stumbled onto a Nobel Prize after extracting primordial slime from a meteorite.

Like the ooze in Ghostbusters 2, this goop starts growing, the one-celled creatures within it evolving millions of years within just a few hours. Before you can say paramecium mitosis, the little buggers have developed legs, teeth and a healthy appetite for the good folk of Glen Canyon.

When members at the local golf club start getting dragged by lizard-like creatures into the water hazards it draws the attention of the army, which of course can only make matters worse. Before long you know somebody's going to be asking, "Who you gonna call?"

By adding a dim-witted civilian (Sean William Scott playing just a slightly less idiotic character than he did in Dude, Where's My Car?), and a token love interest (Julianne Moore), you've now got the prerequisite foursome needed to make up the Ghostbusters, sorry, alien busters.

Replace the proton packs with shampoo, the Ectomobile with a fire truck, and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man with a giant, flatulent slug, and the deja vu is there all over again.

What you don't have, however, is the witty and hilarious dialogue Dan Aykroyd (who appears in this film as the governor) and Harold Ramis penned for Ghostbusters.

You also don't have anywhere near as good a cast. While Duchovny demonstrates he can play more than just a dour-faced FBI agent, he can't hold a candle to Bill Murray. Only Jones, who despite being limited to 'black' jokes and sight gags, looks like he's in his natural environment.

Still, Evolution does boast impressive special effects and enough laughs to make it palatable. It's just not an improvement on the original as the title promises. (More on: Evolution)

(This film is rated )


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