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Overall Rating
3.33

Awesome: 21.12%
Worth A Look: 23.6%
Average27.95%
Pretty Bad: 21.74%
Total Crap: 5.59%

9 reviews, 107 user ratings


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Bruce Almighty
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by David Cornelius

"Pray for better jokes."
2 stars

There’s a quaint innocence about “Bruce Almighty,” in the way that characters talk about God. They casually discuss God not in a modern, ironic manner filled with deep religious debate, but in a casual, glib, not-giving-it-a-second-thought way, as if they’re discussing their cousin or their goldfish. Nobody here stops to doubt the existence of a supreme being, nor does anyone pause to question if the God being mentioned is of a certain denominational variety. This movie’s God knows no religious boundaries - or if he does, nobody’s saying anything.

As there’s no clumsy moralizing in the “Touched By an Angel” or “Left Behind” kind of way, what we get here is the sort of off-the-cuff way religion used to work itself into older pictures (think “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Horn Blows At Midnight,” “Here Comes Mr. Jordan,” etc.). Seeing it here again, coming from the mouths of Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston, takes some getting used to in these modern times. After all, it’s been a long time since Hollywood gave us “Oh, God!”

And it shows. “Bruce Almighty” really, really, really wants to be an updated “Oh, God!”, but it’s really more along the lines of, say, “Oh God! You Devil,” which, while not as bad as other Ted Wass vehicles, still wasn’t all that hot.

But the movie doesn’t fail just because it’s awkward hearing Carrey’s character, the titular Bruce Nolan, add God to any discussion without batting an eye. (Religion and faith don’t seem like two things this character would ever casually discuss if the plot didn’t require him to.) No, “Bruce Almighty” fails because it’s cheap. It gives us a cutesy premise and then never bothers to do anything clever with it. It gives us a main character we don’t like, a guy who does whatever’s easiest to get Carrey doing the same schtick he did in “Liar Liar.” And it’s just not very funny.

The plot: Bruce is Buffalo’s most popular human interest reporter, the guy sent out to cover the baking of the city’s largest cookie or the anniversary voyage of Niagra Falls’ Maid of the Mist. He’s dubbed “Wacky Bruce” by his fellow reporters, and he hates it. He’d rather be anchoring, not clowning around in the post-sports wrap-up.

An anchoring position does open up, but the job’s stolen by a jerky rival reporter (Steve Carell of “The Daily Show,” who provides the only genuinely funny performance in the film). Anyway, Bruce blames God for his misfortune, calling the guy mean and incompetent. When Bruce steps in a puddle, gets stuck in traffic, or is beaten after trying to help a homeless man, it’s all God’s fault, right?

That’s when he gets a visit from God himself (Morgan Freeman, perhaps the only actor this side of George Burns who could believably fill the role). He gives Bruce all the powers of a deity and sets him loose on the world, the hope being that Bruce will learn a lesson on how hard it is to be God, or something.

Since Bruce is such a self-centered guy, he uses his new powers not to help others, but to help himself. He causes freak accidents to occur wherever he’s reporting, so he can land exclusive coverage. He causes Carrell’s character to go tongue-tied on air. He teaches his dog to use the toilet, ha ha. And when the voices of millions of prayers become too much for him to bear, he answers them in whatever way demands the least amount of work.

And all the while, we see where this is going. Bruce loses his girlfriend (Aniston) due to his selfishness, and we know he’ll realize he’s gotta work hard to get her back. His blindness toward prayer-related consequences causes troubles city-wide, and we know he’ll realize he’s gotta work hard to learn how to be a better manager. It’s the exact same formula we saw in “Liar Liar” (directed, as “Bruce” is, by Tom Shadyac): Carrey’s character must learn how to help others, not just himself.

This might have worked had the jokes not bombed quite so much - Carrey relies on broad, bland humor, while the screenplay adds groan-inducing bits like a thug who mentions the phrase “when a monkey comes out my butt” in a painfully clumsy set-up. If only the writers had thought to open up the concept beyond dog-on-toilet gags. Here’s an ordinary guy given unlimited powers, and all he does is use them to make his girlfriend’s breasts slightly larger? Yawn.

There is an interesting angle in all of this. Carrey’s “Wacky Bruce” is a guy who learns it’s okay to be the goofball, to do the light stuff, to make people laugh. In that sense, Bruce is Carrey himself, learning to avoid the deep, serious fare that he thinks people don’t like (he’s wrong). But has Carrey returned to formulaic comedy because he, like Bruce, does his best when making others laugh? Or has he returned simply because it’s in his safety zone, far away from the riskier drama of “Man On the Moon” and “The Majestic”?

I vote for the latter. “Bruce” is way too similar in tone to “Liar Liar” to be a mere coincidence. This is Jim Carrey trying yet again to win back a mass audience who got confused when he tried to go serious. And that’s a shame. Carrey works best when stretching his dramatic muscles (and comic ones, too, as evident in the underrated “Cable Guy”). But “Bruce” is a step back, the kind of movie that feels phoned in. Still, I’m not as upset that Carrey’s falling back on reliable material as I am that the material is too flat to be entertaining.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7702&reviewer=392
originally posted: 06/10/07 02:05:41
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User Comments

7/21/12 Sean Harrison Absolutely hilarious. 4 stars
9/11/11 pipesrussell Jim Carey, most overated un talented actor ever. 1 stars
8/12/11 Eric Ivins One of Jim Carreys best 4 stars
7/02/09 cindy LOVE this movie, I watch it frequently, never get bored of it. 5 stars
3/01/09 R.W. Welch The only guy who ever played God convincingly was George Burns. 3 stars
6/05/08 edareenda lyerak what is my name spelled backwards? oh yeha this movie was great 50 stars 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT NO THANK-YOU VERY MUCH! 1 stars
3/31/08 Gorp why is everyone only focusing on jim carrey being funny? maybe that wasn't the point 5 stars
10/17/07 Beau it was rather funny! 3 stars
10/17/07 mb Funny 3 stars
6/28/07 gr117 There are a few bits that still make me LOL. 4 stars
6/11/07 Dark Enchantress loved it, and it was funny! 5 stars
6/10/07 fools♫gold Not bad at all: I could probably even watch it again (just maybe). Tough to rate. 4 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK How long will it take for Carrey to realize he's not funny any more? 2 stars
2/19/07 Nick Maday Better than I expected, but not great. 3 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Hilarious Jim Carrey movie. 3 stars
1/29/07 Lisa Craven This is such a feel good movie, very funny, kept me hooked even though it's a little hokey 4 stars
1/22/07 David A. It's funny, but it has a genuinely inspirational message. 4 stars
12/08/06 justin the movie rocks!!!!! 5 stars
11/30/06 Stanley Thai A funny comedy. 4 stars
8/26/06 Nanni I really love this movie, i've watched it like 100 times!!!!! 5 stars
7/19/06 Anthony Feor Carrey strikes again 5 stars
5/23/06 Agent Sands One of Jim Carrey's best movies. Doesn't beat Eternal Sunshine, but it's good. 4 stars
5/18/06 Roy kind of corny,but funny funny guy 4 stars
5/08/06 Indrid Cold Gets a little flimsy toward the end, but overall it's genuinely funny and entertaining. 4 stars
4/22/06 Poopy Woopy B-e-autiful 5 stars
4/03/06 JRE hysterical! for all skeptical christians, it doesn't make fun of good 4 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer First 1/2 was a comedy. 2nd 1/2 was a chick flick. What gives? 4 stars
8/30/05 Littlepurch Loved it then, still do now. And so does everyone I know. Really a feelgood film. 5 stars
7/24/05 C Vega Carrey is good and even though there are alot of laughs, the whole film is kinda corny 3 stars
6/07/05 JD Not bad but, not Carrey at hi best, it's somewhat funny. 3 stars
4/23/05 Quigley a hilarious Jim carrey triumph. it's not Dumb and Dumber, but it rocks! Jim is the best!!! 5 stars
4/18/05 Jeff Anderson Too selfish & smug for it's own good with a laugh every now & then. M. FREEMAN REDEEMS IT!! 3 stars
4/06/05 tatum Some laughs, but also some really sucky special effects 3 stars
3/28/05 Emma A funny film. 4 stars
3/09/05 ian it's gooooooooooooood... 5 stars
2/28/05 Dan I am not religious, but this movie is funny as hell! 5 stars
1/28/05 Jack Scallops I got the power to recommend it 5 stars
9/04/04 T.B. Nasty and not funny 1 stars
7/12/04 DM Steve Carell is the movie's highlight; stay home and watch "The Daily Show" instead of this 2 stars
6/19/04 Denise Duspiva funny 4 stars
6/12/04 Raymond Lee great laughs 5 stars
6/06/04 Jim Worth it to see Carrey make anchorman spout gibberish. Reminded me of "Modern Problems". 5 stars
6/01/04 Charlene Javier A blast! 4 stars
4/15/04 alice Started out OK but then he "overdid" it again. I hate that about Jim,he's funnier otherwise 3 stars
3/10/04 bsho76 Morgan Freeman is God...nuff said 4 stars
2/29/04 Ingo Cheesy and foreseeable. 2 stars
2/21/04 Littlepurch Bit mushy at end and not as gd as Liar Liar but still hilarious. All actors were brilliant! 5 stars
1/30/04 Matt Thiel Ugh. 2 stars
1/27/04 Katie Malone Heehee! Hilarious! Jim Carrey at his best! 5 stars
1/26/04 Rapunzel Gladstone Cinematic attempts at playing God can waste even the best of actors, Freeman in this case. 2 stars
1/16/04 Gecko Fanfoot A 21st century classic. Carrey is actually funny without overdoing it as usual. 5 stars
1/01/04 Katie Miller It was hilarious 4 stars
12/29/03 Agent Sands The rest of the movie's clever & funny, & Aniston is da bomb. Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh... 5 stars
12/21/03 Gingavitus It was gr8! I played God (but I'm not Jim Carrey or Morgan Freeman, u confused readers?!) 5 stars
12/18/03 * An Idiot Who Loves Jim Carey* AWESOME! jim carey is radical! i dont why u people stay it stinks.!WEIRDOS! 5 stars
12/10/03 re Awesom movie! 5 stars
12/09/03 Sarah This movie is one of the best films I have ever seen!! 5 stars
12/07/03 Dr xaivier "It is sure to be a Hit in Hell or at least the Toilet!" 1 stars
12/06/03 bender Did it have to be so serious in act 3? Good flick otherwise. 4 stars
11/28/03 Samuel Not as good as everyone made it out to be, but still very entertaining... 4 stars
11/22/03 ross hendrick crap, jim carrey's worst! 3 stars
11/01/03 Littlepurch Soppy ending but a very funny film overall. 4 stars
8/25/03 Heather Purplethorne Atheists might well find this a good basis for a reductio ad absurdum argument. 2 stars
8/21/03 Veronica Tatterworth Slow start; Good comedy when Bruce gets power. Then sinks to dumb theology and male bashing 2 stars
8/08/03 Troy Butler Nothing special, ... occasionally very funny, but tried too hard for a bit of drama!!! 3 stars
8/03/03 Farnq Y See this movie and really laugh out loud 5 stars
8/02/03 mark angelo enriquez tells people how to be GOD in one week 4 stars
8/01/03 Eric no words in the english langauge 1 stars
7/28/03 Harry Go to Bath after seeing this Great Movie 5 stars
7/23/03 Double G An okay movie, kinda boring at some parts. 3 stars
7/08/03 kz Jimmy C is back and funny as ever 4 stars
7/06/03 lee Funny & cute - take Jim C. movies for what they are or don't see! cried laughing at parts. 4 stars
7/06/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back MoFos!!!) What the fuck is w/ U guys & the trailer? The best parts weren't even in the goddamn thing! 5 stars
7/04/03 italian stallion Seen the trailer? ..... then u've seen the movie 3 stars
7/03/03 Jason It was funny. I was crying in spots. 5 stars
6/30/03 seldom scene not that good great bell and jennifer 2 stars
6/29/03 David A. Enough bathroom humor to be Jim Carey, but still has a senstive plot! 5 stars
6/23/03 Mike Jim Carrey making faces for 2 hours is NOT FUNNY !!! 1 stars
6/23/03 MJM103171 Slightly betterthan typical Jim Carrey 3 stars
6/18/03 Goofy Maxwell Goes to show--ya can't please everybody, nor would ya want to. 4 stars
6/17/03 Erin Everyone seems to like it so much I feel like i should to but I don't 2 stars
6/17/03 ^ZuLu^ All the good shots were shown in the trailer. Nothing funny left in the movie.Otherwise:ok. 3 stars
6/14/03 Darth Haggis Thought there would be more to it except what we saw on the trailer 1 stars
6/13/03 Markus Fuchs Great film, but the last fouth is too moral imho 5 stars
6/13/03 your worse goddamn nightmare It was funny with a few comedic twists. Just let yourself enjoy it... 4 stars
6/11/03 Brannie looks good, cant wait 5 stars
6/09/03 Hooters gurl Surprisingly amusing! I would reccommend it for a good summer popcorn comedy. 4 stars
6/04/03 Allen Geez, you people gotta lighten up! This was a cute, harmless comedy. 4 stars
6/04/03 movieboy Okay i thought it could have been funnier though 4 stars
6/03/03 Matt Good - liked it 5 stars
6/02/03 Mike C Predictable, boring and whiny. Promising idea, money grubbing execution! 1 stars
5/31/03 John "cute" 4 stars
5/31/03 Vince S'ok. Funniest part was Steve Carrell from the Daily Show. 3 stars
5/29/03 George Jung Slightly better than average summer crap. 3 stars
5/29/03 Blackops jim carrey does ok in this movie, but i would have thought it would have been funnier 3 stars
5/28/03 nick2k godammit! was this a disney film? sigh....it was fun here and there... 3 stars
5/28/03 malcolm bluestar Weak. Really weak. 2 stars
5/28/03 . LOL 5 stars
5/27/03 Hassan verry funny..... 1 stars
5/27/03 Danny B-E-A-U-tiful 4 stars
5/27/03 Tracy Awesome! U'll laugh all the way through, but it still got the drama!:) 5 stars
5/27/03 Jack Bourbon Eh is right. I can't believe how uncreative this movie is with Carrey playing God. 3 stars
5/26/03 ray laughed harder than I ever have in a movie 5 stars
5/26/03 bender funny stuff. 4 stars
5/25/03 Call me.....daddy ;-) I thought it was really good, the preachy stuff wasn't too preachy..forgot how funny JC was 4 stars
5/24/03 syrius eh.............? 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  23-May-2003 (PG)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  19-Jun-2003




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