Movie Reviews

Bruce Almighty

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 7 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Jim Carrey as Bruce Nolan
Jennifer Aniston as Grace
Morgan Freeman as God
Lisa Ann Walter as Debbie
Philip Baker Hall as Jack Keller
Catherine Bell as Susan Ortega
Steven Carell as Evan Baxter
Nora Dunn as Ally Loman
Sally Kirkland as Waitress

Summary:
Bruce Almighty is a funny film that doesn’t have all its surprises spoiled by the trailers. It’s an interesting mix of humor and thought-provoking material.

Story:
Bruce Nolan is having a bad day. He lost his job promotion to his bitter rival, got beat up by a gang, fought with his girlfriend, wrecked his car, and had his dog pee all over his apartment. This string of unfortunate events leads him to turn all his frustration towards God. Bruce believes God has singled him out for abuse. At this point, the thing Bruce least expects happens.

God responds.

God appears to Bruce with a deal. He offers Bruce the job and powers of God for a time while he’s on vacation. After all, he believes he can do the job better, so why not give him a shot. Unbelieving at first, it doesn’t take Bruce long to realize this is the real deal. Bruce begins to wield his new powers in irresponsible and selfish ways. He eventually screws up the world and even his personal life. But can Bruce set things right even with the powers of God?

Bruce Almighty is rated PG-13 for language, sexual content, and crude humor.

What Worked:
It has been a few years since we last saw Jim Carrey in a comedy, but he returns in top form for Bruce Almighty. The movie is fast paced and funny and offers a lot of laughs. Thankfully, this is one film that doesn’t have all the best parts spoiled in the commercials and trailers. They save a few surprises in the film.

Bruce is a news reporter stuck covering the “feel good” segments around the community. These news segments are really funny and they give Carrey plenty of room to improvise. When he eventually gets the powers of God, he puts them to funny (and selfish) uses. His revenge against a gang that jumped him ends up being one of the more memorable sequences from the film. It’s one of those things that you feel guilty about finding amusing. I won’t spoil it here, though. His revenge against his rival, played by Steve Carell, also draws a lot of laughs.

Underneath the humor, there’s a somewhat deep plot about love, free will, and God. I’ve heard people say things like, “If there’s a God, how could He let something bad like this happen to me?” You’ve also probably heard people complain because they didn’t have their prayers answered. This film addresses those issues in a way you may have never thought of before. The fact that this film is thought provoking makes it worth checking out.

As you know, the cast in this film is first rate. Jim Carrey really keeps the movie alive as Bruce Nolan. I don’t think anyone else could have made this story as entertaining. Jennifer Aniston breaks away from her Friends role as Grace. She more than holds her own against Carrey and they have some touching and funny moments together. Morgan Freeman also holds his own against Carrey as God. His brief cameos are some of the more enjoyable moments of the film. He even offers up the Ace Ventura catch phrase “Alrighty Then” at one point. The supporting cast is rounded out by Catherine Bell (from TV’s JAG) as Susan Ortega and Steven Carell (from the Daily Show) as Evan Baxter. Bell makes fun of news anchors when she says her last name “Ortega” with a distinct Spanish accent that she doesn’t otherwise have. Carell cuts loose in a scene where Bruce manipulates him like a puppet. Everyone in the film does a fantastic job.

Stick through the credits to see some really funny outtakes and bloopers from the movie.

What Didn’t Work:
I was expecting Bruce Almighty to be sacrilegious, especially considering that Jim Carrey was in the lead. Fortunately, it was not. In fact, it was quite a thought-provoking look at God and his nature. However, it did have some elements that seemed inappropriate considering the story. Bruce uses his powers from God to make his girlfriend orgasm uncontrollably in a sex scene. Bruce lives with his girlfriend and he uses frequent profanity. Considering how God lays that stuff out as sinful in the Bible, it seems a bit disrespectful to flaunt it in the movie. That’s just my personal opinion.

I also didn’t buy the setup of God intervening with Bruce. In the story, the main thing that had Bruce railing against God was the fact that he didn’t get a promotion at work. Is that really reason enough for God to give his powers away? It would have been nice to see a less shallow reason for God taking notice of Bruce. There’s a little more to it in the movie, but I can’t say much without spoiling it. However, I still think it needed a better setup. Bruce’s shallowness also makes it hard to warm up to him and like him as a character. That doesn’t even come till very late in the film.

I would have also liked to see Bruce do more with his powers. While you get little bits of global reactions to his tricks, most of what he does is fairly local in nature. He doesn’t try to end war, feed the hungry, or anything else on a global scale. It would have been fun to see him really mess with the norm. It would have been funny to see him with religious followers, being hounded by reporters, or other things. However, I realize most of this would have made the film longer and the movie cost increase.

The film is also very predictable. If you can’t guess the ending when you walk in the film, then you probably haven’t been to many movies.

The Bottom Line:
Bruce Almighty is a good for a few laughs. Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston fans should be particularly pleased.


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