Bruce Almighty (2003), Run-time , Cert 12A.

Director - Tom Shadyac.

Writer - Steve Oedekerk, Steve Koren & Mark O'Keefe.

Starring - Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston & Phillip Baker Hall.

 

Premise - Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is a TV news reporter on Channel 7 in Buffalo. He has dreamed all his life of becoming the anchorman on the News show and when the previous anchor retires he thinks he has it. When he finds out during a live TV report that someone else has gotten the job he goes off into a tirade and gets fired from the channel. To make matters worse he goes home and has a fall out with his girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston). Bruce points the finger of blame squarely at God. But God (Morgan Freeman) is listening and gives Bruce his powers within the Buffalo area to see if he can do a better job.....

Bruce Almighty is a film that stinks of wasted opportunity. You have a high concept with lots of comedy scope, one of the finest comedy performers of the last decade in Jim Carrey and an actor of Morgan Freemanís quality to add gravitas. So, how is it then that Bruce Almighty is only occasionally funny and saddled with one of the most excruciatingly unbearable, overly moralistic final half hours since Liar, Liar. Oh yeah, thatís right itís directed by the same man, Tom Shadyac.

If I was to be truthful I knew the direction this film was going to go after about the first ten minutes. Carreyís character Bruce is a bit of a self centred asshole, much like his character from Liar, Liar. He then goes through a life changing experience (pick either god like powers or the inability to lie, either will do) and learns the error of his ways, gets back with the girl he pissed off, everybodyís happy, bring on the credits, pass me the sick bucket.

If it wasnít for a couple of swear words, (which it has to be said stick out like a sore thumb in this film) Bruce Almighty would be perfect family film fodder. Safe family comedy with a strong message delivered with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the temple. With this film, Liar Liar, Dragonfly and the unbearable Patch Adams, Shadyac is fast becoming a director that I have no wish to ever make another movie. This kind of slushy, sugary, superficial, moralist tripe drives me up the wall.

The funniest stuff in the film comes during the opening scenes with Bruce being an asshole during his TV reports. He goes off into a glorious (Iím assuming heavily improvised), babbling rage underneath Niagara Falls, itís classic Carrey. Once Bruce gets his God powers things remain fairly funny, but you get the feeling that Jim is holding back. Weíve seen the rubber faces and the kooky catchphrases before, this is Carrey on autopilot.

The section with Bruce and his powers also raises many, many questions that poke holes in the films wafer thin plot. Bruce gets tired of deciding to answer individual prayers so he automatically says yes to them all. Thousands of people then win the lottery. How is this possible? Everybody has different numbers! The local team wins the Stanley cup, how about the supporters of the other team? Did they not pray for a win? Simple problems like this plague the film. When I should be laughing I am thinking about how implausible stuff is, thatís just not right.

On the plus side Jennifer Aniston is very good as Bruceís girlfriend. I was half expecting a ĎRachelí type of performance, but apparently Mrs Pitt has a bit of comedic range and was more than capable of holding her own opposite Carrey. Morgan Freeman it would seem was born to play God. Freeman underplays it and shows a quiet patience befitting a being that has lived through all time. As usual itís always nice to see Phillip Baker Hall on screen, one of the great character actors.

The music in the film grated like rusty nails on a blackboard. Itís the sort of cutesy whimsical trash that is supposed to be uplifting, but just made me wretch. It was of little surprise to me that composer John Debney worked on Dragonfly and Liar, Liar with Shadyac. The various effects that are used during Bruceís God power scenes are also fairly weak. This isnít a big budget action flick though so I canít really mark the film down much for that.

This is a low rent Jim Carrey flick and is far from his best. It never, ever reaches the gut busting glory of Dumb & Dumber or the dark, edgy brilliance of The Cable Guy. Heck, itís not even Me, Myself & Irene quality. The sugary sentiment and gaping plot holes hurt this film really badly. However, a smattering of laughs and nice performances from Aniston and Freeman save this from being a complete waste of time.

 

4()/10.

Poster Quote Ė For the love of godÖ..

If you enjoyed Bruce Almighty then try Ė Groundhog Day, Liar Liar.