BRUCE ALMIGHTY, Jim Carrey's latest picture, is an uneven mix that's two
thirds LIAR LIAR and one third THE MAJESTIC. Although the movie, about
Carrey getting a gig as God, has more than enough humorous moments to be
able to recommend it, it never quite sizzles as it should.
When we meet Bruce Nolan (Carrey), he's a wannabe television anchor in
Buffalo stuck doing silly, fluff pieces as a reporter. Bruce's long-time
live-in girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Aniston doing a nice job in a throwaway
role), wants nothing more than a ring and kiddies. With his life coming up
lemons, Bruce begins to blame God Almighty for his troubles. In a
confrontational scene with the unseen man upstairs, Bruce rails at God, "The
gloves are off!"
Soon God (Morgan Freeman), himself, appears to Bruce. God challenges Bruce
to do a better job than he does and then bestows upon Bruce the heavenly
franchise to the Buffalo area. The only rules are that he can't tell anyone
and he can't mess with free will. As you might expect, the law of
unintended consequences will prove to be his biggest challenge. Supersizing
the moon may put your girlfriend in the mood, but messing with Mother Nature
can get the planet in a heap of trouble.
You might expect Bruce to go wild, but, like Spiderman when he first
discovers his powers, Bruce isn't quite sure what to do with them. His
first modest successes include parting a bowl of tomato soup just like Moses
parted the Red Sea and settling a score with some local hoods. Initially,
Bruce acts not much differently than if it were the Devil rather than God
who bestowed his powers on Bruce. The self-centered Bruce uses his new
gifts to help himself rather than others, but, hey, it's funny, even if not
The funniest jokes come in the spectacular events that Bruce stages in order
to win his coveted anchor job. After a blissful hour of pure entertainment,
the movie, by director Tom Shadyac (PATCH ADAMS), feels itself in bad need
of messages. The film finds its raison d'ątre on the dual ideas that God's
job isn't as easy as it seems and that there's no place like home. Bruce
eventually gives up being on God and sets his sights on winning the heart of
the one he loves, Grace. If you have the grace to forgive the film's sappy
last act, you can still have a good time laughing at Carrey's antics.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY runs 1:34. It is rated PG-13 for "language, sexual content
and some crude humor" and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 14, thought the movie was hilarious and gave it *** 1/2.
He said that it proved that Hollywood is not out of fresh ideas. He thought
all of the jokes worked. He especially likes the way Carrey always has some
catch phrase in his movies, like his "b-e-a-u-tiful" in BRUCE ALMIGHTY.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes