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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Bruce Almighty

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Judy Thorburn

"Bruce Almighty" - A Supreme Role For Jim Carrey?

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“BRUCE ALMIGHTY” – A SUPREME ROLE FOR JIM CARREY?

Portraying God in a movie doesn’t seem much of a stretch for many a movie star. After all, so many are deemed “divine”, and worshipped by millions. Possessing enormous power, being influential to the masses and adored by their fans are a few other things they share in common with the “supreme” one.  So, I can only imagine what fun it must be to add “God” to their acting resume.

In Bruce Almighty, not only one, but two actors get a chance to portray God  in the flesh.  Morgan Freeman plays the real thing, and Jim Carrey is given a chance to fill those mighty shoes for just one week.

Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a human interest reporter for a Buffalo TV station, covering such schmaltzy stories such as an interview at the local bakery where preparations is being made to bake the city’s, if not the world’s, largest chocolate chip cookie. Unhappy with his job, he dreams of doing some serious reporting by moving up into the anchor position.  But, when Bruce gets passed over, losing the job to his arch rival Evan Baker (the very funny Steven Carell of TV’s Watching Ellie) he has a melt down, live “on the air”, in the middle of a shoot at Niagara Falls.  It’s sweeps week and having Bruce flipping out and  screaming profanities on camera for all viewers to see does not wear well for the station boss (veteran character actor Philip Baker Hall) who, of course, tells Bruce he’s fired. But, that’s just the beginning.  Leaving the station, Bruce gets beaten up by a street gang, has his car vandalized, and he steps into a deep puddle.

Rather than re-evaluate his life and appreciate the good things, like his live in girlfriend, sweet day care teacher Grace (the underrated, Jennifer Anniston) who is loving and supportive, Bruce lashes out at God blaming him for all his bad luck and troubles.  When Bruce can’t seem to stop his beeper from sounding off after he threw it out the window and it was run over by a car, and should, in all account, be broken, he decides to find out whose number it is that won’t stop flashing.  A phone call leads him to a where house that reads Omni Presents on the outside wall.  Once inside, he meets a janitor (low keyed, but always stately Freeman) who tells him he’s God, and that he is sick and tired of Bruce’s complaining, making him the target of his rage when anything bad befalls him. So, God tells Bruce that he is transferring his almighty powers to him for one week to see how he likes it and  if he can do a better job. Just two stipulations – don’t let anyone know, or mess with their free will.

However, Bruce uses his newly acquired powers concentrating only on self centered matters. After seeing he can part the waters of his tomato soup, make his wife’s boobs larger, and improve their sex life, he goes on to create hot newsworthy scoops that helps him settle the score back at the station. It’s good for him (and makes some amusing moments for us) that he now has the power to make his dog use the toilet instead of peeing on the furniture, or reel in the moon creating a more  romantic evening atmosphere. But,  what about earthly matters that involve the rest of humanity?  When Bruce starts hearing innumerable voices in his head of people praying, he is put to the test, and finds out that  the job is more than he can handle.

Jim Carrey reunites with director/producer Tom Shadyac who he worked with on Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Liar Liar collaborating on this comedy that tries to send a message. There are some very funny situations, especially the one where he asks for an apology from the gang leader that roughed him up.  The response is “I’ll apologize when a monkey comes out of my ass”.  You can figure out what happens next.

Carrey appears back in a comfortable zone doing his familiar comedy shtick after delving into more dramatic roles in movies such as The Truman Show and The Majestic . Thankfully, he foregoes of some of his gross physical antics, while still using his body and rubber face to garner plenty of laughs, and also create some dead on impersonations of Walter Cronkite and Clint Eastwood.  It’s when the story gets a bit sappy at the end that I realized the comedy outweighed the spiritual message. The balance between sentimentality is uneven with real issues never tackled.  Bruce is just a self centered goofball who finds God in a most unusual way. You never feel anything deeper for his character, even though Carrey shows us he can deliver some heartfelt emotions other than off the wall lunacy.

Other supporting roles include Sally Kirkland in a thankless minor part as a waitress, Nora Dunn (SNL alumni) as Bruce’s producer,  Lisa Ann Walter as Grace’s sister, and Catherine Bell (TV’s Jag) as the sexy station co-anchor. There’s even a cameo with Tony Bennett crooning the befitting, “If I Ruled The World”.

Bruce Almighty is a fairly entertaining comedy that  Jim Carrey fans should find amusing.  It’s not a great comedy.  But, with so many crappy comedies that have hit the screens lately, it is still passable fluff that delivers some hearty laughs here and there.  And that’s always a welcome plus, thank God!