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May 24th, 2003

Universal's Bruce Almighty

Universal's Bruce Almighty
Released May 23rd, 2003
Starring:  Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Baker Hall, Catherine Bell, Lisa Ann Walter, Steve Carell, Nora Dunn
Director: Tom Shadyac
Premise:  Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a "human interest" television reporter in Buffalo, New York who is discontented with almost everything in life, despite his popularity and the love of his girlfriend Grace (Aniston). At the end of the worst day in his life, Bruce angrily ridicules and rages against God -- and God responds. He appears in human form (Freeman) and, endowing Bruce with all of His divine powers, challenges Bruce to take on the big job and see if he can do it any better!

It is amazing knowing that Jim Carey has not had a new comedy, intended for the young adult crowd, in about three years. The man who was once declared a king of comedy seems to go through a bit of a dry spot in his career. Me, Myself & Irene was not the big hit everybody expected it to be especially from the directors of There's Something About Mary while his dramatic performance in The Majestic was critically hailed but the film itself was a big flop at the box office. Though he had his failures in the past four years, Carrey found success in the family hit, The Grinch. Now after some time off, Carrey returns to the comedy scene looking in top form. This time around he takes on the role of a man who thinks he can do a better job at being God then the big man himself. The question is, though, will this film do a better job then Carrey's previous misses or will his trend of failure continue?

The story goes that a man named Bruce Nolan is miserable and unhappy with his life. Granted, yes, he does look to have a pretty average life with a beautiful girlfriend, a good apartment and a steady job but he is going nowhere in his life. As a human interest story reporter, Bruce is passed on promotion after promotion which are given to people that flaunt it in his face. And whenever he tries to do something nice for somebody, like helping a homeless man on the street, bad things happen because of it. Continuous bad luck drives Bruce to the breaking point and he calls upon God himself. He shouts that God is not doing his job and claims he could do a better. Hearing his shouts, he gives Bruce the opportunity almost anybody would love to have: To be God and have all his powers. There are just two rules that come with this power: First, Bruce can't tell anybody he is God, and second, he can't affect a person's free will. Will Bruce help the poor and unfortunate? Sure, after he straightens his life out first, which could take awhile. The story of Bruce Almighty is pretty good though it is not completely perfect. The film does tend to slow down quite a bit in parts of the film which can be a problem for the overall effect.

The cast of
Bruce Almighty is pretty good for the most part. Jim Carrey is once again in top form as the lead character in the film. Carrey's dramatic emotions like he used in films like The Majestic actually come into use in parts of the film when serious issues are dealt with. The fact that Carrey can be so fun and then change unnoticeably into a serious state makes him an outstanding actor that is rarely seen in comedy today. Morgan Freeman is the perfect fit as God. Freeman, who has appeared in such dramatic films as Deep Impact and The Sum of All Fears, has rarely been seen in a comedy especially with the likes of Jim Carrey but he pulls the role off perfectly. Freeman's comic timing is so perfect that you wouldn't believe that he hasn't performed in many comedies. Hopefully the film's success will give him more reason to test the genre. The only real problem with the cast would be Jennifer Aniston. Granted she does look pretty in the film and presents some emotion in the film, she really does show any exceptional acting talent. For most of the film either she is crying or showing no emotion what-so-ever. She really doesn't present something to the character that the audience hasn't seen before or different from her character on Friends. Perhaps she should just stick with roles like The Good Girl, which was a critical success for her, because her comedic acting is not anything to laugh at.

Bruce Almighty is another good comedic popcorn flick but nothing extraordinary. There are too many small problems that plague the film to give it huge approval. The story is good but like it was said earlier, it is not spectacular. There are many funny elements within the course of the film but the story strays into too many moments where it just falls flat while the audience waits for the next hilarious moment to appear. While talking on the subject of jokes, when is Carrey going to get off the fart and potty humor to get laughs. There are a lot of moments where he uses whitty lines and such to make the audience laugh but then later in the film strays into making fart noises interrupting a news anchor. Another problem with the plot of the film is that when it does go to the serious moments, it becomes way too sappy and pushes away a lot of the audience that just came for the comedy. If you have seen any romantic comedy before this film, you basically know how it ends. Most of the film is too predictable which sort of hurts it. Not to say the film is not funny. Jim Carrey saves the day for most of the film while Morgan Freeman helps with his rarely seen comedic whit. Bruce Almighty doesn't even come close to The Matrix Reloaded but does give some laughs for those too young to see the big hit sequel.

My Rating: **** out of 5 (Grade: B)

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