Directed by Ivan Reitman. Starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore and Seann William Scott.

From the director of Ghostbusters, 'Evolution' is a sci-fi comedy caper in which two Arizona high school teachers discover a rapidly evolving life form on a recently descended meteor. The film opens with a bizarre sequence, involving a wannabe fireman (Scott) and a life-size doll, which sets the tone for the antics to follow. From here, events progress in an increasingly implausible, fast-paced and generally entertaining fashion.

David Duchovny and Orlando Jones star. Their different comic styles - one deadpan, the other over-the-top - perfectly complement each other throughout. Julianne Moore displays hitherto unseen comedic talents and handles the role of a clever but klutzy scientist well.

Much of the tale sees the enterprising central duo pitted against the US government on the road to international acclaim, and, with any luck, a Nobel Prize for their discovery. However, priorities shift as the unidentified life form metamorphoses into multiple creatures which fast become bigger, slimier and much, much scarier. All attention is then focused on the more immediate task of saving of the world.

The movie makes an obvious effort to please a mixed audience using a variety of methods from visual gags, adolescent jokes, imaginative special effects and a predictable romantic subplot. Stock characters abound, but the good all-round acting skills manage to rise above the 2D characterisation. Sharp editing and just about enough of a plot line keep what could have easily become a sprawling mess well on track.

All the cast members appear to revel in the silliness of it all. Duchovny, in particular, appears to have fun playing with a lighter, more humorous, version of his well-known X-Files persona. There's not much science in the fiction but that doesn't really matter for this kind of fun, family fare.

Siobhán Mannion