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‘Expelled’ zealously mocks evolution

Nothing funny about comedian’s film on intelligent design

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EXPELLED: NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED — * — Documentary feature about the "intelligent design" debate; rated PG (adult themes)

Droning funnyman Ben Stein monkeys around with evolution with the new documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," a cynical attempt to sucker Christian conservatives into thinking they're losing the "intelligent design" debate because of academic "prejudice."

"Expelled" is a full-on, amply budgeted Michael Moore-style mockery of evolution, a film that dresses creationist crackpottery in an "intelligent design" leisure suit and tries to make the fact that it's not given credence in schools a matter of "academic freedom."

Using loaded language and loaded imagery, Stein and Co. (Nathan Frankowski is the credited director) equate evolution with atheism, lay responsibility for the Holocaust at the feet of Charles Darwin, interview and creatively edit biologists and others (scientists "cast" for their eccentric appearance) to make them look foolish for insisting that science, not religion, can explain creation.

Stein, a Nixon administration functionary who reinvented himself as a movie and TV buffoon after "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," seems closer to his latter persona in this disingenuous and dishonest doc.

Shockingly, the "experts" Stein hurls up against evolution are disgruntled, undercredentialed academics dismissed from lesser colleges, they say, because they wanted to teach creation rather than science. Other "experts" in the film come from anti-evolution "think tank" cranks and a Pole who invites nothing so much as a really good Polish joke.

Credentialed scientists who also describe themselves as Christian have attacked the film for suggesting they are persecuted for their beliefs. They say they aren't. Others interviewed for the film have complained of dishonest editing, misrepresentations and about not having the pleasure of having actually met Stein.

"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" is rated PG for thematic material, some disturbing images and brief smoking. Running time: 90 minutes.