Review: Bruce Almighty

by Jake Sproul

Rating: (out of )
Grade: C

I am finding it surprisingly difficult to express my feelings for Bruce Almighty, as the film has left me with such an indifferent feeling. As a comedian Jim Carrey has never been middle of the road. His in-your-face brand of comedy is either liked or hated. Yet in Bruce Almighty, Carrey seems to be holding back, and letting the scriptís comedy speak for itself. Unfortunately, the entire humor was tailor made of Carreyís typical humor. Unquestionably, there are some hilarious sequences in Bruce Almighty for any age group, yet in general, I have never seen Jim Carrey so...dull.

Carrey plays the titular Bruce Noland. Bruce is a human interest story reporter for a Buffalo news station. Lately, Bruce seems to be running out of luck, and when he is passed up for a desk anchor position at work, Bruce loses it and begins to curse God for everything that is going wrong. Bruce is then confronted by God, who gives Carrey His powers for a week, to prove to Bruce that he canít do any better. As Bruce finds out he can have anything or do anything on this planet, he finds himself losing the one thing that he really needs and wants, his girlfriend Grace.

Director Tom Shaydac is in familiar waters with Jim Carrey in front of his cameras, as he directed the comedian in his star-making effort, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and again in 1997, in Liar, Liar. Bruce Almighty follows a very similar line to that of the later, as in both films the character Carrey inhabits finds himself in a weird situation. While Liar, Liar was consistently funny, Bruce Almighty was consistently funny when it attempted humor. Hardly a joke lands with a thud in Bruce Almighty, but there simply arenít enough comedic bits undertaken. I tend to perceive Carrey as over the top in his other productions (dramatic or comedic), but here in Bruce Almighty, he holds back.

Why is it that every comedy I see has to have a moral behind it, or has to morph into a sappy romance? You know the future of comedies are in jeopardy when some may classify Bruce Almighty, a Jim Carrey movie, as a romantic-comedy. This new trend has me just about ready to run for a Farrley Brother comedy! The romance in Bruce Almighty is less than the sum of its parts. Both Jennifer Aniston and Jim Carrey ooze charisma, but when they are together, they make a boring couple who can produce sparks only capable of a flicker. I think this the appropriate time to warn anyone who plans on seeing Bruce Almighty that the final ten minutes are ridiculously sappy and attempt to put a pretty, happy-ending bow on everything. Suffice it to say, these final moments are the funniest of the movie, in all the wrong ways.

When they arenít together, both Jennifer Aniston and Jim Carrey are surprisingly fresh, Aniston in particular. Following an Oliver nominated performance in The Good Girl, Aniston is luminescent on the screen. Jim Carrey, whom has been busy with dramas the last few years, is back in the type of role that put him on the A-list. His performance is competent, and above average during his farce scenarios, yet he occasionally plays Bruce a bit too coldly, jeopardizing the main characters likeability. Hereís a sentence I thought I would never say: Morgan Freeman is God. Thatís right, the actor takes on the role of the big Guy upstairs. His more-than-a-cameo-less-than-a-main-part role is good for a few laughs, but only a few. I was hoping that Freeman would have played God a bit more loosely. But I guess giving a loser like Bruce Noland all of His universal powers is loose enough.

If you are familiar with the out-put of my reviews, you may have noticed that it has taken me longer than usual to write this review for Bruce Almighty. The reason for this I have preached in the past: it is far more difficult to write a review for a mediocre movie than it is to write a review for a good or bad movie. Thus is the story behind Bruce Almighty. There are certainly a few great laughs to be had in Almighty, but not just simply not enough. Sadly, it appears than Bruce isnít Almighty with this critic.

© 2003 Jacob Sproul

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