Bruce Almighty Reviewby Michael Redman (redman AT indepen DOT com)
July 21st, 2003
Bruce & the eighth deadly sin
** (out of *****)
By Michael Redman
Bruce! Bruce! Why hast thou forsaken us?
Remember when Jim Carrey was widely acclaimed as a great comedian? No, you probably don't because it never happened. A long-time guilty, albeit not very well kept, secret of mine is that I've always liked Carrey. Although his choices in films have been questionable, his rubber-face and impeccable timing have always impressed.
Until now, that is. _Bruce Almighty_ is Carrey at his worst. His timing is absent and he commits the eighth deadly sin: he's not funny. Admittedly he doesn't have much to work with, but, with his history, he should be used to that.
The film starts off with an intriguing plot. Bruce Nolan (Carrey) meets God (Morgan Freeman) one day as the deity is mopping floors. The supreme being needs a vacation and passes his position and omnipotence to Bruce. At first the newly appointed Almighty is a doubting Thomas, but quickly discovers that he is, indeed, The One.
Where a more imaginative movie would have taken a look at how this transformation changes the everyman, _Bruce_ enthusiastically ignores every opportunity to transcend the obvious. Our hero uses his heavenly abilities to influence the mundane and moves on to the even-more mundane.
Much like the ludicrous announcement from the lottery winner that he's going to continue with his assembly line job, Bruce becomes God and decides, of everything in the universe he could do, he needs to concentrate on getting a promotion he missed out on at his job.
Although he has little screen time, Freeman is the best part of the film and gets off a couple of good lines including the underplayed and almost unnoticed Carrey trademark "Well, alrighty then."
Jennifer Aniston as Bruce's love interest provides nothing more than scenery announcing "Are my boobs getting bigger?" Although she's not an amazing actress, she's certainly usually better than the sleepwalker we see here.
Carrey and director Tom Shadyac's previous pairings, _Ace Ventura_ (1994) and _Liar Liar_ (1997) were stupid but occasionally comical films. They perform a God-like miracle with this one. It's just as stupid, but the scenes are lifeless; the jokes, flat and the story, sappy.
If you want to see Carrey in top form, ignore this one and check out Man On The Moon (1999), the flawed but inspired The Cable Guy (1996) or even The Duck Factory, his short-lived television series from 1984.
_Bruce_ is on its way to making big bucks for the studio, proving conclusively that, to paraphrase the old adage, no one goes broke underestimating the intelligence of the movie-going public.
The Lord may work in mysterious ways, but _Bruce_ doesn't work at all.
(This appeared in the June 4, 2003 Bloomington Free Press. Michael Redman can be contacted at [email protected])
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