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"A divine comedy about a man who is bestowed with God's powers for one week."
"Carrey is a terrific actor, but more importantly, he is a comic genius."
"It is laugh out loud funny and yet, heartfelt."
Bruce Almighty  


Bruce Nolan: Jim Carrey
Grace: Jennifer Aniston
God: Morgan Freeman
Jack Keller: Philip Baker Hall
Evan Baxter: Steven Carell
Debbie: Lisa Ann Walter
Susan Ortega: Catherine Bell
Review May 2003

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be God? To be all powerful and all knowing? To be able to make mountains out of molehills? It's hard to fathom such power given to a mortal human being, but that is the premise behind "Bruce Almighty," a divine comedy about a man who is bestowed with God's powers for one week. What would you do? How would you behave? Would you make the world a better place? With the good-humored antics of Jim Carrey and the direction of Tom Shaydac, also known for his work on "Liar, Liar" and "Ace Ventura," "Bruce Almighty" is a pleasant, yet wonderfully hilarious and heartwarming film.

Bruce Nolan is a news reporter for a local television station in Buffalo, New York. His focus is on human interest stories, stories that are whimsical in nature, but not as significant as headline news where Bruce would like to be. At home, he is nurtured by Grace, a daycare center worker capable of finding happiness in the simplest of things. The two are not married, but share an apartment and a dog with an uncontrollable bladder. Despite a comfortable life, Bruce is discontented. His dream is to become a news anchor alongside Susan Ortega and after the current news anchor retires, he sees his big chance in front of him.

But some dreams were not meant to be. After learning that he was passed over for the promotion to news anchor by a fellow colleague, Bruce explodes into a fit of rage. In doing so, he loses his own job, is randomly beaten for trying to help a homeless man, and gets involved in a car accident. When it would seem like nothing else could get worse, Bruce accuses God for making his life miserable. And God responds. Bruce is called in front of God and is offered the chance of a lifetime - to trade places with God for a week to see if he can do a better job. Unsure of his newly acquired powers, Bruce experiments. He potty trains his dog, spices up his sex life, and begins to receive recognition for his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time when covering news stories.

Yet, as we learned in another summer blockbuster: With great power comes great responsibility. Along with his newfound almighty power, Bruce must also help those who are in need, he must attempt to make the world a better place, and most importantly, he must respond to the millions and millions of prayers that are submitted every daily. In doing so, Bruce gains an appreciation for God but his selfishness and odd behavior have further distanced him from Grace. Unable to change her free will with his powers, Bruce rediscovers the important things in life, finds his inner self, and tries to win back the affection of his one true love.

Directed by Tom Shadyac, known for his work with other comediennes like Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy, "Bruce Almighty" offers an upbeat mix of comedy and melodrama. It's not outrageously over the top or listless; instead, it has just the right mix. It's also very similar to one of Shadyac's previous works, also with Carrey, entitled "Liar, Liar." But unlike 'Liar' which was foremost a maudlin piece with comedy mixed in, 'Almighty is predominantly a comedy with tender moments mixed in. The two are related because each embraces the human spirit.

Whether detailing a hard working attorney who can't make time for his son or a humorous news reporter who is having a mid-life crisis, these films have characters we can relate to. Sure, the situations they are placed in are extreme and somewhat supernatural, but they are situations that speak to all forms of humanity, to everyone. Such was the work of Frank Capra, one of Hollywood's most respected directors, and one of the most successful directors in the fantasy-comedy genre. And this film knows its place. In fact, it has a fitting tribute to Capra in a scene in which Bruce lassos the moon and re-arranges the skylight for Grace. "I'll lasso the moon for you, Mary" says George Bailey and we are instantly transported to the exact scene on television in "It's a Wonderful Life."

"Bruce Almighty" is a return to form for Jim Carrey, who has spent the last few years recovering from the box office flop known as "The Majestic." Desperate to be taken seriously as a dramatic actor, Carrey has made several forays into the dramatic world, but each has failed to live up to the expectations set forth in his brilliant portrayal of Truman Burbank in the "The Truman Show." Multitalented and underrated, Carrey is a terrific actor, but more importantly, he is a comic genius. With his trademark, rubber-like facial expressions and goofy posturing, Carrey can get a laugh without saying a word. And it's hard to imagine anyone else who would have as much fun as Carrey at playing God. He blows up skirts and fire hydrants, parts traffic jams and a bowl full of soup, and exacts revenge on his co-workers in B-E-A-utiful ways.

In the film, God tells Bruce that he gave him a spark and that that was what made him special - the ability to make people laugh. Ironically, that is a reflection of Jim Carrey himself. Comedy is what Jim does best and this is certainly Carrey at his best. Along for the ride are Jennifer Anniston and Morgan Freeman. Following her highly acclaimed performance as Justine Last in "The Good Girl," Jennifer Anniston has her big, big screen debut in this one and manages to stay afloat with Carrey. No doubt, there will be larger, leading roles for her in the future. But this one is a mild role, with little deviation from her comedic portrayal of Rachel on "Friends." Meanwhile, Freeman is the perfect complement to Carrey, cautiously optimistic and patient. Not generally known for his comedic undertakings, he portrays the role of God with such charm and wit that he seems like a natural.

"Bruce Almighty" is at times, a slapstick comedy and at times, a sentimental drama. It is laugh out loud funny and yet, heartfelt. In Ecclesiastes 3:11, God sets "eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." But in this film, we get a sense of that tremendous responsibility that God possesses along with the all-encompassing power. It's not easy being God. And even more important, it's not easy being God when you're really only human.

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