Bruce Almighty is a 2003 American fantasy film directed by Tom Shadyac, best known for movies that include among others, ‘The Nutty Professor’, ‘Liar Liar’ and ‘Detective’. It pivots on the highs and lows of a disgruntled television reporter in Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey); misfortunes follow him like flies on a moving dump truck and thus upon his complaints about his issues to “God” (Morgan Freeman) whom he is blatantly displeased with, Bruce is handed the incredible task of enforcing the celestial work all by himself.
Straight off the bat, I just want to say that I loved this movie; I’ve watched it several times in my childhood but I can indeed affirm to you that watching it again just recently as a movie critic made certain moments more enjoyable but at the same time, flaws, which I will get into in due time, more conspicuous. That said, let’s dissect this movie, shall we?
From the onset, you get the ultimate feel of the comedic genius that is Jim Carrey; he is truly a legend of the game, no question about that and this particular movie, for me, was one of the best movies I have ever seen him in; the notable mentions being ‘The Mask’ and ‘Dumb and Dumber’. No sooner does the movie begin than you are bombarded with this comical character Bruce Nolan; he is reporting on a potential world-record breaking cookie and he is having none of the unresponsive interviewees. His exchange with the chefs is taking an unprecedented turn but leave it to Bruce to joke his way past all of it. This light-heartedness, in particular, is a trait that his employers find favour in but one that elicits dissatisfaction from Bruce and thus he is yearning for a new purpose; all he wants to be is an anchor which is apparently not possible since the spot is already occupied by someone else. Upon the vacancy of the latter, the gargantuan beef between Bruce and his work adversary in Evan (Steve Carell) grows several notches higher since they are both eyeing the same position. There are a number of scenes that could testify to this and which collectively felt like a boxing match with 3 rounds. Round 1 went to Bruce, a scene in the 1st Act where Jim Carrey’s character and Evan go on a trashtalk-off in an office upon realizing that one of them could be possible replacements for the anchor job and Bruce wins it with poise even though he uses provocative ways. Round 2 went to Evan, a hilarious scene where Bruce, without his knowledge, discovers that his nemesis got the job he so wanted; a shocking revelation that causes him to go on a full-on live television rant while on remote reporting at a waterfall which eventually costs him his job. I loathed the Titanic reference in that scene; it cracked me up a little. Round 3, however, was the most savage of all. Bruce, with his new abilities, wins not only the round but the fight as well by taking over Evan’s live broadcast in the studio; he messes up with the teleprompter and his speech as well and it was painstakingly funny. Credit to both Jim Carrey and Steve Carrell for lighting up this movie like a Christmas tree on December 25th; its everything I always want in a movie of this genre and having watched many fantastic comedians in many films that deliver the much-needed comedy, I can indeed say that this distinct duo’s performances here is way up there as one of the best on-screen.
Be that as it may, this movie is not just about light entertainment; it doesn’t go out of its way to impress you with the comedic capabilities that it can deliver; it does have a good plot. In fact, it has two different plots in one, sort of like sub-plots; the common denominator obviously being Bruce Nolan. In many ways, it was very apparent that Bruce was dealing with his grief and exasperation through comedy; that was his way of venting out his frustrations without being too physical or just too intense in the way he expresses himself. However, there is a moment in the movie where he reaches his boiling point and throws the latter anger management strategies off the window while in an argument with his spouse Grace Connelly (Jennifer Aniston). That scene made me connect more with Bruce as a character in that he shows that he is human; behind that smile on his face there is someone filled with spite full to the brim waiting to burst out and I sympathized with Grace as well in the process; there is only so much she can do. All things considered, she does an incredible job being Bruce’s anchor and a shoulder to lean on and hence when she eventually can’t keep up with her fiancé’s instability and insecurities and leaves, you tend to see things from her perspective and understand why she makes the decision that in some ways is long overdue, particularly from the eyes of her sister Debbie (Lisa Ann Walter). The different tangents that their relationship takes over the course of the film are sure to rivet and cause you to ask yourself certain questions particularly on whether or not you would tolerate a situation where your spouse is not at peace and only thinks of himself and his troubles all the time without considering that you as well are human and go through the same things as well.
The second subplot, which is the arguably the most dominant one involves the one, the only, Morgan Freeman and as controversial as it may sound, he is “God” in this film; unconventional and uncanny are the best words I can possibly use to describe the portrayal. He is not one to entertain complaints, case in point Bruce Nolan on how much he has failed him and hence he decides to give the hopeless guy his powers while he is on vacation; so that Bruce can know how it feels to be in charge of all creation. For most of his benediction runtime, the now former reporter does find a lot of pleasure in his new powers. He can walk on water, he can do an instant fashion exchange with a mannequin, he can pull the moon closer to earth, he can spit a spoon from his mouth, he can turn a sex session into a wrestling match, he can cause a monkey to come out of someone’s bosom in that famous “I got the power” scene; long story short, he can do anything. Nevertheless, he eventually starts feeling the full weight of the world on his shoulders, literally. Judging by the way he reacted to the flipside of all the splendor he had been bathing in, it shows you that he did not give much thought to the immense responsibility he was tasked with. Additionally, during his celestial spree for lack of a better term, he ends up separating with Grace; a situation in which he can’t find his way around and thus he comes to the realization that in spite of his abilities, there are some things that must be fixed genuinely i.e a broken heart.
The banes in this film were not difficult to find; it was like spotting a small pack of wolves amongst a flock of sheep. There are a fair few moments in the photoplay where green-screen was used disastrously, like the Mount Everest scene in which Morgan Freeman’s character and Bruce have a chat. Moreover, as you would expect, the film just had to contain biblical references, which I found quite bland; a testament of this is a scene whereby Bruce is testing out his powers in a diner. He does a telekinesis thing with the salt shaker as well as a coffee mug and in finality, he parts the soup he had been served into two; a direct reference from the Parting of the Red Sea in the Bible complete with the wind. There is also another unnecessary stunt that Bruce pulls whereby he summons a Colombian coffee vendor who just appears on his window in a flash and serves him the coffee he wanted; bear in mind the room he was at least in the second floor and thus it begs questions that I will for sure never get the answer to. Finally, there is an inexcusable parting shot of a homeless guy who featured in some scenes in the film shape-shifting into Morgan Freeman’s character; the CGI took the sting out the scene that had just concluded.
In conclusion, I’d pardon Bruce Almighty on a considerable number of flaws it bears the exception being the Morgan Freeman one at the end of the film. The motion-picture doesn’t take itself too seriously because its primary goal is just to entertain you with well-executed comedy and some bona fide stuff that shone through in the 3rd Act. If indeed you are a true fanatic of Jim Carrey, my assumption is that you have already seen this movie and if not, then what are you waiting for?