Bruce Almighty was a hit, and the studio wanted a sequel. The most admirable thing Tom Shadyac and his crew did? They avoided doing a total retread. They told Bruce’s story, and they did not want to just make a total formula sequel.
In some ways, this film owes more to the Oh God Franchise than the first film. This one has a focus set on Evan getting a mission from God. And it borrows heavily from movies like the Santa Clause. Evan does not just get a Noah-like mission, he grows instant beards. Animals flock to him. He has to build a really big boat.
Carrell was a standout performer by then, and they opted to follow Evan Baxter and his family. While Freeman is back in the Mercy Seat, the film’s option to look at how the personal can impact the bigger picture never quite comes together as effectively as the first film.
In addition, the original story of Noah is one of judgement and punishment on a grand scale. But while I appreciate the environmental conservation message the film tries to convey, Evan is not trying to stop an immediate extinction level threat, and the stakes that should be there simply are not. By being a bit more bigger picture, the film fails to hold up as effectively as the previous film which stayed local and personal.