Evolution was given a curious lack of build-up by DreamWorks no promotion until almost the last moment, merely a bland trailer and a poster of three-eyed smiley face that told one almost nothing about the film and as a result did only middling business. Ivan Reitman comes armed with a script by Don Jakoby, a former collaborator with Dan OBannon Blue Thunder (1983), Lifeforce (1985), Invaders from Mars (1986) and author of solo projects such as Arachnophobia (1990) and Vampires (1998). Unfortunately, Evolution is only a reprise of Ghostbusters. It is maybe Ghostbusters by way of Men in Black (1997), nevertheless it is Ghostbusters warmed over in all essential respects the team of anti-authoritarian scientists taking on an alien/ghostly menace, the tightass bureaucrats/military, a scene where the mayor/governor admits he needs their help, and a climax taking on a giant-size monster ending in a rain of gloop everywhere.
Evolution is not an entirely unenjoyable effort. It has a good front-end comedic pairing from the effortlessly engaging comic presences of Orlando Jones and David Duchovny. David Duchovnys role is not that far removed from his most famous part on tvs The X Files (1993-2002) despite Duchovnys loud denunciation of how fed up with the series he was around the time that Evolution was made, and he gives the part his customarily laconic, deadpan delivery to amusing affect. There are some nifty creature effects from Phil Tippett.
However, as with most of Ivan Reitmans comedies, Evolution is commercial, mainstream humour pitched at easy laughs that is amiable enough but never particularly challenging. The main difference between Evolution and Ghostbusters is the emergence of a good deal of Farrelly Brothers gags about sex, bodily excretions and bad smells. There is an extended gag and one that obtained the biggest audience laugh about an alien insect that gets stuck up Orlando Joness butt and has to be extracted; and a climax that involves administering a giant-size enema to a mass of alien protoplasm. I may be alone in this attitude the young audience seemed to relish this but I tire of films that want us to applaud and find them funny simply because they throw in vulgar references. Not to be prudish or anything but real humour involves an actual joke not simply showering someone in goop or referring to moderately socially taboo subjects.
One also had a few quibbles about the films concepts of evolution. There is a credited evolutionary advisor but there are times the films idea of evolution is distinctly Lamarckian ie. assuming that lifeforms evolve according to genetically pre-destined patterns, as opposed to Darwinian evolution where those most suited to environmental conditions survive over those less adaptively suited. Furthermore, a series of lifeforms that can go from single cellular organisms to reptilian and primate lifeforms within a matter of weeks would require an amazing number of generations of births and a single cave would not be able to support a biosphere of the size required.
Evolution was later spun out into a short-lived animated tv series Alienators: Evolution Continues (2001).
Ivan Reitmans other genre films are:- Cannibal Girls (1973); Ghostbusters (1984); Twins (1988) with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as mismatched clone twins; Ghostbusters II (1989); Junior (1994) with Schwarzenegger as a pregnant man; and My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006). Reitman also produced David Cronenbergs first two commercial successes, Shivers/They Came from Within/The Parasite Murders (1976) and Rabid (1977), the revenge and brutality film Death Weekend/The House By the Lake (1976), the animated Heavy Metal (1981), the space opera Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Space Jam (1996) featuring Michael Jordan taking on Warner Brothers cartoon characters, the animated tv series Mummies Alive! The Legend Begins (1998), the psycho-thriller Disturbia (2007), the ghost story The Uninvited (2009), Hitchcock (2012) and Ghostbusters (2016).