Click here 4 stars

Playing God
Jim Carrey finds
there's more
to running creation
than he thought
Jim Carrey

"Bruce Almighty"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

(Click on the images to see larger versions and credits.)

Not being the biggest fan of Jim Carrey in the world, I came into this movie fully expecting to, at best, just tolerate my two hours in the theater. Then, something funny happened on the way to the exit. I actually found myself laughing. I was enjoying America's favorite rubberface.


Morgan Freeman, Jim Carrey

Jennifer Anniston, Jim Carrey

Buster
Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, an on-camera reporter for a Buffalo television channel who dreams of being an anchor, of being respected and admired by the community. He is known for doing the "lighter" news and for being taken less seriously, both by his colleagues and the community. Just when he thinks he's getting somewhere, a smarmy colleage (Steven Carrell) goes behind his back and nabs the anchor job Bruce wanted. When Bruce finds out (in the middle of a live feed from Niagra Falls), he loses it and consequently, gets canned.

His long-suffering girlfriend Grace (Jennifer Anniston) waits patiently for Bruce to commit, but he is way too absorbed in his own career to notice. And as things begin to go wrong, Bruce looks to God for answers. The answers that come, however, aren't much to Bruce's liking, and the newscaster launches into a tirade against the Almighty, blaming Him for all of Bruce's troubles.

Of course, this being Hollywood, God hears Bruce and God responds with an invitation to visit Him in His office. And God looks uncannily like Morgan Freeman, which is pretty much how I imagined Him too ... well, OK, more in a George Burns kind of way, but close enough.

Since Bruce thinks he can do a better job than the Big Guy, God invests Bruce with His powers and invites him to take over the job (which works out, since Bruce is between positions at the time).

Now, Bruce happens to be a broadcast journalist, which is to say, completely self-absorbed, so naturally he uses his powers to resurrect his stalled career, utilizing a few "scoops" (conveniently "discovering" the body of Jimmy Hoffa in a police training ground, and "happening" to be around when a meteor hits. And when it comes time to answer prayers, Bruce just grants them ... with devastating effect.

Of course, the consequences of these events are more far-reaching than Bruce realizes and things go from bad to worse in the world. And, as Bruce gets everything he wants, he realizes that everything he wants isn't necessarily what is important to him. And what is really important to him is drifting away.

I like the movie for a lot of reasons. For one thing, it's not an over-the-top Jim Carrey-fest, which I feared it would be. If the Ace Ventura movies were your speed, you may be disappointed with how subdued Carrey is here. Anniston is wonderful; she is rapidly catching up with Meg Ryan as the queen of romantic comedy.

This is a movie that is not so much about faith as it is about values. Bruce is unhappy mainly because he confuses needs with values. The things that he is chasing with nearly obsessive focus are transitory and in the scheme of things, only self-defining at the surface. The deeper, intrinsic things that define us are the things we tend to push aside in favor of career and acclaim. Faith merely helps us see what is already there.

The sight gags and effects are pretty nifty, and there's a really awesome sequence wherein Bruce sabotages the backstabbing anchor using his powers to ... well, make him speak in tongues.

I didn't expect to like this movie as much as I did. There is a certain sweetness to it, and the leads are well-cast and lovable, and the message is a bit deeper than the average summer comedy. Any movie that can make me cry and laugh in the same two hours is doing something right.

AT HOME OR AT A THEATER?
Although it works well in a theater, this is the kind of movie during which you'll want to cuddle up with someone, although it's not necessarily a chick flick. If you save it for video/DVD, you won't be losing too much.


See cast, credit and other details about "Bruce Almighty" at Internet Movie Data Base.