College professor Ira Kane is invited by geology teacher/girls’ volleyball coach Harry Block to investigate a meteorite that has crash-landed from outer space into a network of underground caverns under the sleepy Arizona town of Glen Canyon. They collect a sample and find that it contains extraterrestrial single-celled nitrogen-based organisms, which evolve into multi-celled organisms by the time Ira gets Harry to his office to see the discovery they made.

Impressed, the two take the science class to survey the meteor site, where the primeval ooze from the meteor has rapidly evolved to consist of oxygen-converting fungi and alien flatworms that thrive on the converted atmosphere. However, the military, led by General Russell Woodman, whom Ira worked for five years ago before he was discharged, managed to learn of his finding via tapping his computer and attempt to control the situation, locking Ira and Harry out. When they protest, Dr. Allison Reed of the Centers for Disease Control reveals in a court settlement two weeks later that Ira oversaw a disastrous field test of a new anthrax vaccine that caused debilitating and humiliating side-effects in the test subjects – referred as the “Kane Madness.”

Meanwhile, the evolving aliens take advantage of the caverns under Glen Canyon, and begin to pop up at the surface, vainly attempting to adapt while attacking any human that crosses their path. Ira and Harry are assisted further by Wayne Grey, a young firefighter trainee who was the first to encounter the meteor the night it crashed to Earth.

At a meeting, Allison reveals that the aliens’ incredible growth rate makes them inherently uncontrollable and that they could over-populate the United States in a matter of weeks. Woodman decides that the alien threat needs to be combated with napalm. Allison quits to help Ira solve the crisis with the parcel of primordial ooze he collected, learning, after Harry accidentally throws a match into the ooze, that the aliens evolve rapidly when exposed to intense heat – which means that napalming them will only make the problem worse.

By morning, Ira determines the solution: selenium may be a poison to the nitrogen-based aliens as arsenic is to carbon-based life-forms (i.e. humans), based on their similar positions in relation to each other on the periodic table. Ira’s two most underachieving students, Deke and Danny Donald, tell the group that selenium is the active ingredient in Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo.

The six of them round up as much Head & Shoulders as they can, load up a fire engine acquired by Wayne, and set out to kill the aliens before the military strike goes ahead. Woodman, however, begins the strike earlier than planned, forcing an evolutionary response as an alien amoebic life-form begins to metamorphose out of control, growing to gigantic proportions while it engulfs the other aliens in the process of surfacing and overwhelming the army before it begins mitosis. Fortunately, Ira and Harry manage to stop the creature with the selenium before it can asexually reproduce.

In the aftermath, Governor Lewis holds a press conference as soon as possible, congratulating each member of the heroic party personally (at the same time announcing Wayne’s sudden promotion to the fire service as reward for his part). However, Ira and Allison sneak away before he can get to them, and make love in the cabin of the fire truck.


Even though this film deals with biology related material, you do not have to be well versed in science to understand it.

David Duchovny turned down a role Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, to do this film. I’m not sure that was such a good thing, but I am a Star Wars fan, so I’m a little biased. Duchovy does his best work, in my opinion, in these sci-fi films. Here he reminds me of the leading men from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Orlando Jones is at his most hilarious in this role. As Professor Block, he provides the wide eyes humor filled sidekick (for lack of a better term) to Duchovny’s Dr. Kane.

Julianna Moore is not a name you would think of when it comes to physical comedy, but she does a good turn as the klutzy Dr. Reed.

Sean William Scott rounds out the main cast as fireman in training Wayne Grey. This is the kind of role that made Scott famous (after the American Pie films). He mixes naive stupidity with cockiness and creates a great character.

The effects in this film are great, but low budget. However, as with many great sci-fi films, the effects don’t need to be the best to make the movie, rather its what they do with them.

I wonder how much Head & Shoulders sales went up after this film. Good to know tht something so simple can end up saving the world after our boneheaded, triggerhappy military dooms us all, isn’t it?

Yes, this is more of a comedy, than a true sci-fi film, but it’s still pretty cool. I’m sure there are those that scoff at this because it isn’t serious, gory, or scary enough. Fact of the matter is, not every sci-fi movie these days has to be borderline horror. Get over yourselves and have some fun. Yes, that’s right, this is a fun film. *GASP* Unheard of these days, right? Take a chance and give this film a try. You’ll be sure to enjoy it.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


2 Responses to “Evolution”

  1. It’s been a long time, but I remember cacking myself at this film. It was irreverent, well written and well acted. With one exception – Duchovny. I thought he was out of his depth here, playing a straight role while all around him were hamming it up.

    But I otherwise agree – a good, fun film.

  2. […] was released starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, and Julianne Moore. Check out the trailer for Evolution and see what you […]

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