Bruce Almighty (2003)

ba“Bruce Almighty” makes the message perfectly clear; everything has a consequence. Every choice, every reflex has a consequence and everyone pays for it in the end. Bruce is taught that there are people far worse than he could ever imagine though he refuses to see beyond his own self-centered self obsessed world to discover that. He pulls in the moon and creates stars for his girlfriend one night and ends up causing a massive monsoon on the other side of the world, he grants everyone’s blessings with a “yes” answer thus causing chaos, even granting everyone the win in the lottery and people only getting 17 to 20 dollars. It’s never that simple, it can’t be that simple and Bruce discovers that with terrible results.

Upon viewer’s first glance Bruce Nolan  has it pretty damn good. He works at the local news station as a reporter, not a respected one, but it’s good work, he has a nice looking apartment, his girlfriend is Jennifer Aniston and he works at the station alongside the ridiculously hot Catherine Bell, but to Bruce his life stinks and it only gets worse when he loses a potential position as an anchor at his station to another reporter (Steve Carrell), and then his car breaks down and he’s nearly beaten to death by a gang. While his girlfriend Grace, a very kind-hearted woman, insists things could have been worse he’s finally had enough and screams at god that he’s had enough of his bad luck.

Soon he begins getting pages from a mysterious caller and when he calls is given instructions from an automated machine beckoning his call to an address. When he arrives he stumbles upon a man who says he’s God but looks an awful lot like Morgan Freeman. God manages to convince Bruce that he is in fact the almighty one and tells Bruce he’s sick and tired of his complaining and is bestowing upon him his powers to see if he thinks the job is so easy. So Bruce is now given god’s powers and begins performing tasks for his own benefit never realizing that his tasks are affecting other people and now realizes he must help others outside his own world stop thinking about himself when the world begins becoming chaotic under the results of his decision making.

“Bruce Almighty” sets the way for some truly philosophical questions about god and life and blessings and the message is learned loud and clear. Morgan Freeman does his best with his role as the Christian God and comes off as sophisticated, witty and subtle. He’s the level-head of the story while instilling some sense of wit and texture to the story helping Bruce to realize in the end that people can’t always depend on higher forces for good luck, sometimes they have to make their own luck and be their own miracle. And did I mention the delicious Catherine Bell has a small but excellent role here? I’m praying that we meet someday. The character Bruce is not a likable character; he’s self-centered, self-absorbed, whiny, and obnoxious at times and he has a hard time appreciating the good things he has, so god decides to give him a taste of his own medicine by giving him his powers.

Jim Carrey makes a return to physical comedy after doing the pretty charming drama “The Majestic”, which a lot of people disliked, but I appreciated its intentions, and his return is less than graceful. While “Bruce Almighty” makes room for some interesting commentary and messages to the audience about life, and god, and about appreciating what you have, it tries really hard to be laugh out loud funny, but is basically a very bland entry into Carrey’s repertoire. The main reason for “Bruce Almighty”‘s bland humor is the awful script which consists mostly of Carrey delivering terrible one-liners and forced dialogue almost as if the writer’s desperately set out to create some memorable catch-phrases for Carrey but fail rather badly, hell even Carrey doesn’t look like he’s committing to the one-liners. The situations with his god-like powers can make way for some rather humorous and funny situations but many of the tasks he commits as god are unintentionally pretty creepy.

Like when he sets it up for a K-9 to stumble upon Jimmy Hoffa’s body in a field which leads to his comeback scoop. And when Bruce makes a monkey come out of a gangster’s butt, one of the more creepy scenes in the film, all the while, there are no redeeming qualities for Bruce who seems utterly self-involved until the end with his chaotic decisions as the stand-in god. Ultimately while the film does convey some interesting theories it’s unfunny and often very bland committing to obvious gags like walking on water, and parting a bowl of tomato soup. It fails to really use Carrey’s comedic ability and it ultimately wastes the potential it reaps. While “Bruce Almighty” sparks some interesting questions and arguments for the religious about life, power, and faith, its bad screenplay, unfunny antics of the cast, and bland story make this hardly a classic, though.