Way back in 2001, I got to see a sneak peek of a little film called Evolution. I knew next to nothing about the flick other than it was directed by Ivan Reitman and starred David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, and Julianne Moore, which meant I found myself in the rare position of going into a film completely blind. While my expectations weren’t very high, I enjoyed the clever little comedy for its broad humor and goofy tone. Sure, a lot of the big moments fall flat, but there’s still enough good material in Reitman’s sci-fi comedy to make it watchable.
Of course, what makes Evolution such a joy is seeing Duchovny in a rare comedic performance far removed from his cooler Agent Mulder, Hank Moody, and Jake Winters characters from The X-Files, Californication, and The Red Shoe Diaries. The actor plays the straight man to Jones’ manic science professor, but still gets plenty of deadpan quips to keep his performance from getting lost amidst the rather large production.
Check out some funny bits from Evolution for a few examples of Duchovny’s comic timing:
Unfortunately, Evolution barely recouped its costly $80 million price tag and was largely (and unfairly) discarded as a Ghostbusters knockoff. Such criticisms are more than valid 20 years later. The film indeed follows the Ghostbusters template right down to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man-styled ending featuring a large, blob-like starfish without adding much to the formula. Julianne Moore is miscast, Orlando Jones is a little too over-the-top, and most of the humor derives from Seann William Scott’s all-too-familiar Stifler-esque character.
Even so, Duchovny clearly relishes the opportunity to venture into comic territory. Never in the history of film has a star boisterously exclaimed the line, “Give me back my friend you big sphincter!” with such satisfaction and conviction. It’s too bad Hollywood didn’t take note, because Evolution clearly shows he has what it takes to carry a comedy under the right circumstances.
If you need more convincing, check out the actor’s brief but memorable role in Zoolander:
Or, if you’re okay with simplistic, lighthearted entertainment, check out Duchovny in Return to Me, where he played the rom-com game alongside Minnie Driver:
Then again, perhaps audiences simply refuse to accept Duchovny as anything less than a cool cat in search for extraterrestrial life or battling drugs or sex addictions. At any rate, don’t weep too hard for the actor, who has made quite the career for himself via a variety of unique material. Or, maybe he was being funny all along and we just didn’t see it … perhaps Duchovny’s greatest comedy performance was out there all along as the following video attests, and we just never saw it. Now that would be hilarious!