Review this movie
Jan 25, 2013Bruce Almighty could very well be the one film where Jim Carrey gives everything he's got, making a character so over-the-top and goofy that it would go on to be one of his best performances. Not in my eyes. From the first few frames with Jim Carrey's character, I knew this endeavor may not go so well and, sure enough, I was correct. It has taken me a long time to warm to Carrey the same way I've warned to actors such as Jack Black, but his crazy personality is something that has left me quite annoyed in many of his films. Upon seeing it, I was a little disappointed by how bumbling and idiotic both him and Jeff Daniels were in Dumb and Dumber, yet the film now seems to be one of Carrey's stronger works when put under the same light as this film.
To put it simply, this is a tired comedy exercise, unsuccessfully blending its religious premise with slapstick, and tacking on mawkish sentimentality making the last thirty minutes a gooey slog to watch. We follow Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey), a second-rate reporter for a news station in Buffalo, New York, who has just lost an open anchoring positioning to Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), the conniving, smarmy man who loves one-upping Bruce. Frustrated and angry, Bruce throws a fit while interviewing people at Niagara Falls, costing him his job, which causes him to yell at his wife (Jennifer Aniston) and focus all his blame on God for shifting focus on him.
Bruce then receives persistent pager messages from an unknown number, which he begins to ignore, until caving in and realizing that it requests him to go to a deserted warehouse to meet the one and only God (Morgan Freeman), who tells Bruce that keeping up with several pray requests and helping out so many in need is a difficult job that is often taken advantage of or underappreciated on the grandscale. He then gives Bruce his position, equipping him with all the divine powers (IE: walking on water and possessing the ability to accurately imitate people), and the unprecedented, unearthly responsibility of keeping those in touch with their faith happy and joyous.
But before we get into the sentiment, let's explore the infinite comic possibilities of Jim Carrey being God. In the relative beginning of the film, to end off of Bruce's bad day at work, he is beaten up by a group of local thugs when he attempts to protect a harmless bum. When Bruce now possesses powers, he intimidates the thugs and the one thug makes some sort of comment involving "monkeys flying out of his butt" and you can bet your bottom dollar Bruce makes it happen in a ridiculously unfunny scene that channels the worst comic tendencies of a PG-13 screenplay. It too doesn't help that Bruce's character is an ungrateful man of little charm and so much zaniness that he induces a headache every time his mouth opens.
There's Carrey's hyperactive tendencies, and just the obligatory fact that this story practically extracts every laugh and every tear (there will be audiences, quite possibly those who are religious, but not enough to where they can't laugh at the form of satire) with a premise that basically concocts this very anemic, tired tale of redemption and "putting yourself in the shoes of the person you criticize."
This is the third time director Tom Shadyac and Jim Carrey have collaborated on a film, with the first two being Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Liar Liar. Both films expressed Carrey's style with the same rabble-rousing, uncontrolled behavior this one showcases, but with more of an emphasis on humor and spontaneous enjoyment rather than heavy-handed religious satire. I also learn it took three people to pen this story, Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, and Steve Oedekerk. One thing I could've guaranteed from the start, if I knew the writers, was a nice emotional third act, which Koren churned out to his advantage in Click but in a too little, too late fashion in A Thousand Words. Those films centered Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy, respectively, in their madness, where this one victimizes Jim Carrey showing that he can be funny, if taken in smaller doses.
Yet I can see devoted fans of Carrey's anarchic comedy embracing this film with an open mind and a willingness to laugh. There's a larger audience for this film than I can estimate, yet in the small world of satirical comedies with religion in their crosshairs, I can assume why studios aren't cranking out more of them, and I don't believe controversy is the prime reason.
Starring: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, and Philip Baker Hall. Directed by: Tom Shadyac.… Expand
Like his (Carrey) early work, it's not a particularly good film -- insipidly staged, inanely plotted, too weak to withstand the weight of any inquiries into logic or continuity -- but Carrey's energetic mugging, particularly early on, makes it relatively painless.
The screenplay doesn't ultimately make much sense. Carrey is a unique comic talent, though, and Freeman and Aniston back him up with such sensitive supporting performances that the film almost works if you can suspend enough disbelief to swallow its fantastic premise.