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Bruce Almighty (Widescreen Edition) (2003)

Comedy movie directed by Tom Shadyac

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Bruce Almighty: What if God Was One of Us?

  • Mar 21, 2005
  • by
Pros: some funny moments, soundtrack, Morgan Freeman

Cons: not funny, could be offensive, bad message, Carrey annoying

The Bottom Line: An advertisement for God and an advertisement for apathy

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

"Why is God making me suffer so much? Just because I don't believe in him?" – Sidney Morgenbesser

God. No, not those Guaranteed Overnight Delivery trucks, but the all-powerful deity that the majority of Americans believe in. What a complex and fascinating concept. Many people have questions about the nature the higher power (or lack thereof) in our universe. Thus, Bruce Almighty could have been extremely thought-provoking, but, instead, it falls back on tired romantic comedy customs and lacks the creativity that a film about God deserves.

Of course, I didn’t expect Bruce Almighty by Tom Shadyac (Liar, Liar, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) to be a serious metaphysical exercise. I just wanted it to be funny. The jokes penned by veteran television writers Steve Koren and Mark O’Keefe are juvenile at best with much of the humor relating to dogs, pain, and the female anatomy.

If you’re an atheist, you’ll have a hard time relating to Bruce Almighty’s central premise – that God tries to teach a non-believer a lesson by endowing him with His powers. If you believe in God, on the other hand, you might be offended by the idea that God would leave the universe (or at least the city of Buffalo, NY) in the hands of a loser like Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey). The film isn’t funny enough to make up for its preachiness or blasphemy, depending on your point of view.

The basic plot of Bruce Almighty is that Bruce is a struggling local news reporter. He yearns to get assigned to big stories, but he is stuck covering silly items at the zoo and aboard tourist ships. Instead of blaming this on his lack of work ethic or an incompetent boss, Bruce lashes out at God.

God (Morgan Freeman) decides to teach Bruce a lesson on how hard it is to run the universe by leaving His power in Bruce’s hands while He takes a vacation. Bruce sauntering down the street, walking on water, and causing women’s skirts to lift up while singing along to “I’ve Got the Power” by Snap (oh, the '90s) is the highlight of the film. The soundtrack, which also features “God Gave Me Everything” by Mick Jagger is quite good, especially compared to Koren and O’Keefe’s poor script. Not surprisingly, the only other feature film on Koren’s resume is A Night at the Roxbury, which is also highly unsophisticated.

By anyone’s standards, Bruce’s life is quite luxurious. He has a nice, spacious apartment, a sweet and sexy girlfriend, and a solid job. So what if he doesn’t get glamorous assignments? He still has a pretty sweet deal, so his constant whining at God doesn’t elicit much sympathy from viewers. Bruce has mildly bad luck at times, but his existence is dramatically better than what most people in the world have to deal with.

The fact that God listens to Bruce and singles him out when there are natural disasters, poverty, and wars going on sends the dangerous message that God will give you special treatment if you are obnoxious and ungrateful. When Bruce first receives the power, he is overwhelmed by the volume of prayers that gush in. He gets thousands a day from Buffalo alone. However, this emphasis on the insignificance of each person gets lost due to the central premise of the film -- that God gives special attention to one ordinary guy, albeit an extremely irritating one.

Bruce’s girlfriend Grace (Jennifer Anniston), a lovely schoolteacher, is a one-dimensional character who puts up with her boyfriend’s extreme egocentrism. As her name indicates, Grace is religious and prays selflessly for Bruce. This character seems to exist solely for the protagonist’s pleasure, and she sets the women’s movement back forty years. When Bruce is given the power of God, one of the first things he does is make Grace’s breasts larger.

In terms of race, Bruce Almighty is a bit shady, as well. Is it supposed to be funny that God is a black guy? If so, we have to examine why director Tom Shadyac finds this idea so absurd. If this choice was not a comic one, then the filmmakers waste precious screentime on unfunny material. Alanis Morissette as God in Dogma was amusing, but Oscar winner Freeman looks as much like a god as anyone in his white suit and wise-looking face. His beautiful, soothing voice is also perfect for the role.

I don’t mind offensiveness when it’s funny, but the writing in this film is lazy, and the jokes are lame. Before Bruce gains the power, the bane of his existence is that he can’t train his dog, as the creature pees all over the place. Dog humor just doesn’t do it for me, I guess.

One tangential note: Watching Bruce Almighty made me hate Anchorman even more in retrospect. Anchorman steals many of its jokes about teleprompters and the goofy world of local news from Bruce Almighty. It even nicks the casting choice of Steve Carrell as a newscaster. Carrell’s main gig is The Daily Show. Talk about type casting!

Surprisingly, I had heard good reviews of Bruce Almighty, so I decided to watch it when it was on HBO OnDemand. It’s certainly not worth the price of a rental, but, if you do watch it, have very low expectations. It has a lot of potential and a few funny moments, but you’ll probably end up bored by the end when things turn cheesy and even less funny.


Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More Bruce Almighty (2003) reviews
review by . April 11, 2009
I remember when I first watched Bruce Almighty about 3 years ago and I absolutely hated it. The way people raved on about how funny it was just didn't fly with me at all, I labelled it one of Carreys worst films and vowed never to watch it again. Fast forward 3 years and I'm in a New York hotel room, forced to stay in thanks to the blistering cold, and what's on TV? Why Bruce Almighty, thanks for asking. I decide to cancel that vow and just watch it again for good measure to cement my previous hatred. …
review by . December 19, 2008
The story begins with Bruce Nolan's daily routines.He doesn't enjoy working in his position in a television channel.And someone retires from Live News,and Bruce dreams come closer.All he wants to do is representing the show and become famous around the city.But he has no luck.He can't be promoted.Also that time he starts fighting with his girlfriend and tries to cope with his pet.Even his dog doesn't listen to him.So he decides to talk to God himself.Finally and miraculously he manages to have a …
review by . December 14, 2008
I remember when I first watched Bruce Almighty about 3 years ago and I absolutely hated it. The way people raved on about how funny it was just didn't fly with me at all, I labelled it one of Carreys worst films and vowed never to watch it again. Fast forward 3 years and I'm in a New York hotel room, forced to stay in thanks to the blistering cold, and what's on TV? Why Bruce Almighty, thanks for asking. I decide to cancel that vow and just watch it again for good measure to cement my previous hatred. …
review by . November 27, 2008
Bruce Almighty
Although funny in places, and despite excellent performances by Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Aniston, the plot was weak. Bruce gets denied a job he wants, starts feeling sorry for himself for having a mediocre life, and winds out getting a little hand up from God himself; who endows Bruce with all his Godlike powers. Bruce likes using the powers to better his own life, but finds it impossible to meet the prayer demands of the other millions of souls in his hometown alone. The funniest …
review by . August 09, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
`Bruce Almighty' was Jim Carrey's triumphant return to comedy after scratching the dramatic itch. After delivering such great performances in `The Truman Show' and `Man in the Moon', a return to the rubber-faced, flopping around Jim Carrey feels somewhat dated. Yes, Carrey's antics were getting stale at that time. But, fortunately, `Bruce' is a movie that matures along with him. In this sense it is actually a welcome sight when the movie puts its silly physical comedy in the backseat for the more …
review by . January 17, 2005
Bruce Almighty is an amusing tale of a 40 something man's battle with his midlife crisis. Jim Carrey is quite amusing particualrly in his physical comic style. Morgan Freeman and Jan Aston fill in nicely in supporting roles.     The moral of this movie is to not take life so seriously. There can be some joy in handling the lighter side of life. Some moments are a bit disjointed but overall the good outweighs the bad and overdone.
review by . February 11, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
I was somewhat leery about watching BRUCE ALMIGHTY because of all the various reviews I had read and some of the things I had heard. After seeing the film, I found it to be a decent movie that had a great deal to say about the importance of prayer. Jennifer Aniston was perfect as Grace and she outshined Carrey in every scene they shared. Morgan Freeman was a nice touch, because he's such a talented actor that he brings a touch of class to any project, no matter how bad it is. Those are the postives.Now, …
review by . May 21, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Jim Carrey and Many Laughs     Cons: Anniston does not have a well-developed Role.     The Bottom Line: A very funny return to his roots for Jim Carrey and a fun movie.     What would you do if you had the powers of God? This is the question that drives the new comedy “Bruce Almighty”, a new comedy that sees a likeable guy named Bruce (Jim Carrey), endowed with the powers of god after his complaining gets so severe that God …
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About this movie


Bestowing Jim Carrey with godlike powers is a ripe recipe for comedy, andBruce Almightydelivers the laughs that Carrey's mainstream fans prefer. The high-concept premise finds Carrey playing Bruce Nolan, a frustrated Buffalo TV reporter, stuck doing puff-pieces while a lesser colleague (the hilarious Steven Carell) gets the anchor job he covets. Bruce demands an explanation from God, who pays him a visit (in the serene form of Morgan Freeman) and lets Bruce take over while he takes a brief vacation. What does a petty, angry guy do when he's God? That's where Carrey has a field day, reuniting with hisAce VenturaandLiar, Liardirector, Tom Shadyac, while Jennifer Aniston gamely keeps pace as Bruce's put-upon fiancée. Carrey's actually funnierbeforehe becomes Him, and the movie delivers a sappy, safely diluted notion of faith that lacks the sincerity of the 1977 hitOh, God!Still, we can be thankful that Carrey took the high road and leftLittle Nickyto Adam Sandler.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Tom Shadyac
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: November 25, 2003
Runtime: 102 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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Bruce Almighty (Widescreen Edition) (2003)

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