Bruce Almighty


Directed by: Tom Shadyac
Written by:Steve Koren, Mark O’Keefe, Steve Oedekerk
Starring: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Baker Hall, Catherine Bell, Steven Carell
Released: June 19, 2003
Grade: A-

Expected to be a one-hit wonder after Ace Ventura, Jim Carrey has evolved as a premium actor.  As I’ve mentioned before, he’s part of an elite group who can successfully deliver in any genre.  As popular and successful as he as been, it’s been almost two years since the last Carrey film – The Majestic Bruce Almighty calls on Carrey’s funny side but a few thought provoking moments, aimed at a wide audience, add a little extra.

Carrey is Bruce Nolan, a news reporter looking for an anchor spot on the station’s nightly news program.  Station director Jack Keller (Hall) respects Bruce but has instead given the job to Evan Baxter (Carell) who he sees as a more serious reporter.  It’s a bitter blow for the self-absorbed Bruce who takes out his frustrations during a live broadcast and is promptly fired.

His long-time girlfriend Grace (Aniston) has always been Bruce’s loyal supporter but his reactions to these events reaffirm her doubts that he cares more about himself and his work than their relationship.  Looking for answers as to why he can’t get what he wants out of life, Bruce shouts out to God to give him a sign as to what he must do.  God isn’t going to give him the simple answer.  Played by Morgan Freeman, the great man pays Bruce a visit to provide a divine opportunity.  He will let Bruce be God for a few weeks (complete with all his powers) so he can see just how hard it really is.

The film’s funniest moment arrives when Bruce sabotages a news report of rival Evan Baxter and credit to Steven Carell for his performance in this scene.  It’s generally predictable humour but the limitless energy of Carrey and the lovability of Jennifer Aniston make it a joy to watch.  The film could easily have become a schmaltzy, preachy affair but the experienced screenwriters know better.  They understand the audience will foresee the finale and compensate but providing entertaining humour and a short, compact conclusion.

Bruce Almighty marks the third time director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, Liar Liar) has worked with Carrey and their previous successes are proof they make a great team.  In co-writing the crazy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective nine years ago, they provided the platform that gave each an entry into big-time Hollywood.  Carrey now commands a $20m salary and has two Golden Globe Awards.  Shadyac’s previous five films have grossed $550m in the United States alone and that doesn’t include the $194m that Bruce Almighty has claimed in the past four weeks.  Not a bad stretch for these two good friends.