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When one or two disasters at work follows disasters at home, Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) gets mad as hell and doesnít want to take it anymore. Why isnít God doing his job properly?! God (Morgan Freeman) responds with the age-old Ďyou do it thení routine, and hands Bruce all his almighty powers for a while, challenging him to do better. At first Bruce revels in the games he can play and paybacks he can deliver, but when his relationship with Grace (Jennifer Aniston) fails, he learns itís his own powers that are needed to make him a better life. And a better man.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Much funnier and more entertaining than I expected, Bruce Almighty is a playful essay on the human condition with Jim Carrey as the everyman standing in for God, first to have some fun, second to hit some schmalzy messages about genuine human decency; what we SHOULD pray for, not the selfish stuff we DO pray for. Inside this concept lurks the ever-present romance, and the metaphor of falling out with Grace (geddit?) signals the sort of journey Bruce has to make to understand himself and his life.

But itís the fun bits that work best, and the first half of the film is most engaging. I certainly can relate to the character who finds his life a series of misfortunes; even the minor frustrations carry greater impact when placed at the end of a queue of them. I can laugh with painful recognition at his failures and misadventures, even if I donít laugh at my own. Thatís comedy. The all-important sequence of Bruce being almightied is well conceived and directed, taking us into the fantasy with ease.

The idea for the film could have been developed in more dramatic terms had our anti-hero been truly downtrodden, truly disadvantaged and truly accident prone. As it is, Bruce is Ė in relative terms Ė pretty well off with a job, a car and a cute girlfriend. His fate is much better than most othersí on this planet. But if the script had been seriously about Godís will, it would have required us to suspend belief to a far greater extent than in this fluppy form. The humour comes from a combination of situation, character and Carrey, the latter working his butt off to splice together his juvenile sense of physical and plain silly comedy (reminds me a bit of the Goons, just a tad) and the more sophisticated material inherent in the concept.

Had Carrey and director Shadyac been given their head, and without the sermons and the schmalz, Bruce Almighty could have been a riot Ė but probably not fit for studio distribution. As it is, itís too respectful and righteous to be edgy and dangerous, so you can take your most conservative maiden aunt, even if sheís a Christian.

In the 6-minute Process of Jim featurette on the DVD, director Tom Shadyac talks about what itís like working with Jim Carrey Ė the single most frequently asked question. And no, Jim isnít always funny.

But he IS always funny in the outtakes, a half dozen or so, and the deleted scenes (with optional commentary) are amusing and we even get a glimpse into how the filmmakers created two gods at once Ė with motion control.

On the commentary track, Tom Shadyac gives us several insights into certain decisions, and sets the mood with a nice ní relaxed style with enough dynamics to avoid sounding like a drone. His energy level rises and falls with the movieís momentum, and itís fun seeing the comedy scenes through his eyes.

Published November 27, 2003

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CAST: Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Philip Baker Hall, Catherine Bell, Lisa Ann Walter

DIRECTOR: Tom Shadyac

SCRIPT: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Steve Oedekerk (story by Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe)

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9 enhance; DD 5.1 in English, German, Italian

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Process of Jim; outtakes, deleted scenes, commentary by director Tom Shadyac


DVD RELEASE: November 26, 2003

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