Bruce Almighty (2003)

Alan:

Ebert: San Francisco Examiner:1/2 TV Guide:1/2


Warning, minor plot points revealed!

Bruce Almighty is a cute little movie.  It's one of the "life lesson" Jim Carrey movies like Liar, Liar instead of the wild goofball funfests like Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura.  It's a feel-good, family fun date movie and ya just might learn somethin' too! 

This is the story of a local TV news reporter who is trying desperately to get the soon to be vacated anchor position on the nightly news.  This is all Bruce cares about.  He has a perfect girlfriend and a seemingly perfect relationship and life but is obsessed with himself and his career.  When he doesn't get the job he goes crazy and wails toward the heavens for justice.  He blames God for his misfortune.  So God answers his criticism by giving Bruce the chance to be God.  

I like a good "formula" message movie now and then.  I loved Liar, Liar.  It was hilarious.  The difference between Bruce and Liar is that while Liar sticks to the formula, Bruce Almighty does not.  The recipe for these movies is as such:  

Act 1:  We meet the hero.  The hero is an OK guy but he's kind of a jerk or a loser or something.  We see examples of this.  Then something happens and the hero gets magic powers. 

Act 2:  The changed hero uses his new powers in humorous and possibly selfish ways.  

Act 3:  The hero realizes that his powers should be used for larger issues like helping humanity.  He learns a lesson and the world is a better place.  Hurray!

Jim Carrey learned his lesson in Liar, Liar just like Peter Parker learned his lesson in Spiderman but Bruce doesn't learn anything.  We never get to act 3.  So the formula is incomplete and the movies just sort of ends.

Because Act 3 never happens the comedy is very front loaded as well.  Its like a roller coaster.  The first part of the movie is really really funny.  The second part of the movie has a few funny parts.  But the last part just sort of drags for a while then fizzles out.  

The actors all do a wonderful job though.  Jim Carrey is hilarious.  I don't fault him for a script that fails to deliver.  He's still an excellent and highly entertaining comedian.  Jennifer Aniston is great as Bruce's ignored girlfriend and is more than able to keep up with his wild Carrey comedy style, much like her friend Courteney Cox in Ace Ventura.  Morgan Freeman is excellent, as always, in the part of God.  No matter what role Freeman plays he is absolutely believable and in my opinion one of the finest actors in movie history.  And finally Steven Carell former correspondent for Comedy Central's The Daily Show has some really funny scenes as Bruce's rival for the anchor position.  

My favorite scene from the film is the one at Niagara Falls, when Bruce learns live on the air that he did not get the anchor position.  This is a true Jim Carrey comedy moment.  There's also a funny line near the end where Morgan Freeman says "Alrighty Then."  

If you want to see a really funny movie that explores similar themes rent Defending Your Life with Al Brooks and Meryl Streep.  It follows the formula and is a very funny film from beginning to end.

Bruce Almighty is a funny movie too.  It's definitely worth seeing once but it's not quite as good as it should have been.  It had all the right ingredients so I'm not sure where it went wrong.  I guess that's just how the cookie crumbles.