Bruce Almighty

Bruce AlmightySynopsis: Comic genius Jim Carrey stars with Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman in the entertaining comedy hit of the year that critics are applauding as a “laugh a minute” (Jim Ferguson, FOX-TV). Bruce Nolan (Carrey) is a TV reporter who believes the entire universe is stacked against him. In a life-altering encounter, the Big Guy Upstairs (Freeman) endows Bruce with all of His divine powers and challenges Bruce to take on the big job to see if he can do it any better. Bruce Almighty is the wildly funny comedy featuring “Jim Carrey at his best!” (Leonard Maltin, Hot Ticket)

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Bruce Almighty 7.0

eyelights: Jim Carrey. Morgan Freeman.
eyesores: the so-so script.

“I am Bruce Almighty! My will be done!”

What would you do if you were imbued with godlike powers? Would you be a benevolent deity? A self-serving megalomaniac? Would you just be yourself, except… ahem… a gajillion times more better?

This is the question that lands in Bruce’s (Jim Carrey) lap one day, after a series of unfortunate events transformed him from up-and-comer to down-and-out nearly overnight. Disgruntled and blaming God for never giving him a break, he meets his maker and is forced into taking over for the Almighty (Morgan Freeman); tired of Bruce’s incessant criticisms, He decides to let him prove that he can do better.

Naturally, this leads to many silly situations.

‘Bruce Almighty’ is a 2003 motion picture that bring together star Jim Carrey, director Tom Shadyac and writer Steve Oedekerk for the first time since ‘Liar Liar‘ (although Oedekerk is not credited, he apparently did rewrites for the latter during filming). It was an even bigger hit for the team, becoming one the biggest Memorial Day releases in history, and eventually collecting nearly 500 million dollars at the box office.

But, frankly, when I got around to seeing it, in 2006, I was rather disappointed. It was good, but not great. I blame the insane expectations that came with the combination of Carrey and box office gold, even if by then I had my guard up; a part of me wanted it to be awesome. The next issue is the script, which is okay, but not especially clever. The film survives only because Carrey takes it to the next level with his performance.

But that’s a double-edged sword because he dialed it up a wee too much, transforming Bruce into a minor caricature, when what we would have needed would have been someone grounded and relatable. The humour should have come from the material, not the performance. While Carrey’s nowhere as cartoony as he was in ‘Ace Ventura‘ or ‘The Mask‘, at least it was appropriate there. Here, it feels out of place.

Add to this the fact that his character is a self-absorbed jerk, and he’s difficult to appreciate, let alone root for.

In any event, had the material been stronger, then perhaps Carrey wouldn’t have had to lift the picture all by his lonesome. However, the script’s many gags are contrived to stun the audience into laughter, and yet they’re easily discreditable because they elicit no reaction from anyone in the world of ‘Bruce Almighty’. He pulls the moon closer to Earth? Acts of God take place every time he works? Bah… who would wonder about that?!

Even the people who he directly affects don’t ask any questions or talk about what’s happening. When he gives Grace, his girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston), insane rushes of hormones and pleasure, she doesn’t bat an eye afterwards. When he sabotages his work rival by making him act strangely, no one questions it. Sadly, the amount of suspension of disbelief required for me to savour such altogether impossible scenes is far too high.

One of the only times that I laughed freely was when Bruce had to deal with their dog, who casually kept urinating on their comfy chair or stereo. The reason I laughed so much was threefold: 1) it’s shockingly ridiculous, 2) it’s patently absurd that the couple hadn’t already dealt with this problem, 3) Bruce carries the dog outside while it is jetting pee everywhere uncontrollably. The whole thing is so insanely silly that it overrode all logic.

The script falls down not just in the humour department, it also serves up clichés – for instance, Grace thinks he’s cheating on her with his colleague and Bruce gets a happy ending despite all odds. Except that it doesn’t even do clichés particularly well: for example, the awkward “seduction” scene is contrived to take place in a bedroom and Grace shows up at that exact moment even though there’s no reason for her to be there. Dumb.

‘Bruce Almighty’ is just one contrivance after the next in order to elicit laughs and various emotions, beginning with Bruce’s meltdown on the air, which gets him spiraling downward. It’s complete BS. And that’s the main problem with this picture: it gets a respectable amount of laughs and it has its moments of fun, but it feels completely fake; at no point do the emotions, behaviours or events feel genuine.

The best comedy always come from truth, and ‘Bruce Almighty’ is nothing but a false prophet.

Date of viewing: June 30, 2015

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