Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Bruce Almighty (2003)
12

Welcome to high concept heaven, where Jim Carrey is God.

Hacked off with life and frustrated at work, Carrey's failed reporter, Bruce, rages at the man upstairs. So much so that the divine dogooder (Morgan Freeman) offers him his powers, to see if he can do any better.

Supernaturally supercharged, Bruce takes on TV, landing the epithet 'Mr Exclusive' for his astounding stories. But power and popularity go to his head, as do millions of prayers that demand to be answered. Just saying "yes" has unforeseen consequences, while he's in danger of losing good Grace (the excellent, underused Jennifer Aniston).

So, sanctimony with a side order of laughs, then? Not quite, on either count. "Bruce Almighty" may be too saccharine for some, but it's mostly a smart, surprisingly thought-through blockbuster, with a decent grasp of the theological implications of its idea.

Freeman makes a, um, good God, dispensing wit and wisdom without ever appearing pious. And while on one level it's grotesque to chuckle as a well-off Westerner uses omnipotence to serve self, it's a subtle societal critique that it never occurs to Bruce to think of others.

As with most God-bothering Hollywood movies, Jesus is notable by his absence. But then, the idea of Carrey whipped bloody and nailed to a cross would only appeal to those who endured "The Majestic".

The actor appears to be aware that his comeback to comedy might be welcomed after such self-consciously serious efforts. There's a quaint subtext of self-justification, as Bruce comes to terms with being a light entertainer, just as the actor is.

Unfortunately, any comparison with the similarly themed "Sullivan's Travels" must end there, for the pressing problem with "Bruce Almighty" is the lack of large laughs. Amusing as it is, there's none of the side-slashing hilarity of Carrey-coms "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" or "Dumb and Dumber".

The star's schtick is only intermittently engaging, while the laughs subside to smirks as time ticks on. Neither awful or guffaw-ful. Less almighty. More alrighty.

End Credits

Director: Tom Shadyac

Writer: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Steve Oedekerk

Stars: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Baker Hall, Catherine Bell

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Length: 101 minutes

Cinema: 27 June 2003

Country: USA

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