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Bruce Almighty (2002)
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Review Date: May 20, 2003
Director: Tom Shadyac
Writer: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Steve Oedekerk
Producers: Tom Shadyac, Jim Carrey
Actors:
Jim Carrey
Jennifer Aniston
Morgan Freeman
Plot:
A local newsman fed up with his life not going the way that he wants, curses God and is surprised to find the deity arranging a meeting with him the next day. During their encounter, God gives the man all of his powers and asks him to try and do a better job himself. At the same time, the man is going through personal problems with his girlfriend, and so it goes.
Critique:
When you consider that this film stars one of the most successful comedic actors of the past decade as well as a very cool premise about him being endowed with the powers of God for a period of a week, this could have been a much funnier movie. Instead, we're left with a handful of laugh-out loud scenes, some chuckles, a bogus romance and not enough gas to cover the film's short runtime, which sadly peters out with about twenty minutes to go and turns into sentimental sap that simply does not work. In fact, the film's first 20 minutes were also a little slow and boring to begin with, so I guess it's basically the middle part that works to a certain extent. I can, however, remember about three major "Carrey" sequences that cracked me up (the early "live show", the "great sex" night with Aniston and a vocal "mishap" on the air), but overall, the film just didn't seem to have enough to sustain its ripe premise. I also wanted to see more of Carrey acting rubber-faced, goofy and over-the-top, but again, the screenplay just wasn't there. The stuff with Aniston also felt forced and not very real by the end, at which point it became more about them anyway. I personally couldn't help but feel cheated by its final resolution as well (a copout if I ever saw one-oh, so that's what it takes!?) Also, the film features a reoccurring "bum" character holding up idiotic signs every now and again which were just lame and pretentious. Didn't fit into this movie. Freeman was great as God though and even fired off a few of the film's funnier one-liners ("Oh, I'm just messing with you").

But why not have more fun with Jim and his newfound powers? Why simply brush off the consequences of his actions and not follow those to some humorous end? Why not provide us with a little more reason to care about the lead couple other than the fact that they apparently sit around and put their photo albums together? This film reminded me of a much better picture with a similarly warped premise starring another funny man, Bill Murray, called GROUNDHOG'S DAY. That movie didn't only bring the premise home to its completion, but it also created a more believable romance, included many more scenes of emotion and humor, as well as a more fulfilling conclusion. The sets in this film were also extremely obvious (the street scenes looked like Universal friggin' Studios, man...jazz it up a bit!), and the extras and direction, lifeless. It almost felt like they had half a script and two name actors and decided to shoot it all in two weeks and hope that Carrey's improvisational skills would save the day. Not this time. The ending also squawked PATCH ADAMS, which makes sense since both films were directed by the same man. In the end, BRUCE ALMIGHTY provides for a few big laughs, but doesn't turn it into a full-blown picture and ultimately, disappointed me. Considering that it stars Jim Carrey as a man with the powers of God...they could have gone so many more places. And what was with him saying "B-E-A-utiful" over and over again? Okay, we get it...you're trying to start a catchphrase. No dice. The "alrighty then" reference to ACE VENTURA was cute though. By the way, was that actress Sally Kirkland as the waitress? Weird. Anyway...a video rental at best.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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