Thursday, April 29, 2004

Movie Review: Bruce Almighty

United States, 2003
U.S. Release Date: 5/23/03
Running Time: 1:40
Rated: PG-13 (Language, sexual content, and crude humor)
Cast: Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman

Director: Tom Shadyac
Producers: Michael Bostick, James D. Brubaker, Jim Carrey, Steve Koren, Mark O’Keefe, Tom Shadyac
Screenplay: Steve Koren, Mark O’Keefe, and Steve Oedekerk
Music: John Debney
Studio: Universal

Posted by Hello
From the director of Ace Ventura, Ace Ventura II: When Nature Calls, and Liar Liar, comes this, my least favorite of the four. Having the same formula, I felt like I was watching a much worse representation of the at least enjoyable Liar Liar. Bruce Almighty is a perfect example of a cheesy formulaic comedy that is in dire need of several re-writes. It relies too much on its lead to create the laughs that the sub-par screenplay cannot provide.

Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) gains no respect for his work as a mediocre news reporter for Buffalo’s Eyewitness News. His colleagues do not appreciate his news stories and coverage, and it looks as if he will never climb the news reporter ladder and make it to the almighty position of anchor. However, after Bruce has an incredibly stressful day, he lashes out at God. God (Morgan Freeman) then in turn decides to take a vacation and allow Bruce to take over his overseeing occupation, powers and all. Bruce uses his new-found powers to improve his own personal life, and just when his job, love life, and self-esteem all seem to be looking up, he learns that he is not the only one who needs help in this world and that being the Almighty is a lot harder than he first presumed.

First and foremost, practically every use of Bruce's powers throughout the film is shown in the previews. As the film plays out, one can easily say, "Oh, here is the part where he has seven fingers. There is the parting of the tomato soup - the walking on water - the shot to the fire hydrant during the 'I've Got the Power' music - the gust of wind lifting the woman’s blue dress - the clothes rapidly falling off Jim Carrey and onto the bedroom rug - the pulling of the moon - the dog using the toilet - the parting of the traffic - the manipulation of the news anchor's voice - and the Clint Eastwood impression in the rear view mirror.” With the exception of a very small amount of new uses of his God-like powers, it is disappointing to merely receive dialogue in between the scenes that encompassed the lackluster TV spots.

After nearly two hours of Carrey carrying the picture, the laughs are sparse. For example, the manipulation of the news anchor, the interview with the old woman at Niagara Falls, and the response, "Do you like jazz?...Let me play a little for you!...I can hold that note out forever," are all amusing; however, with a poor plot and with just about as many laughs as there are Stooges, Bruce Almighty cannot hold attention or interest.

The fact is that Carrey's physical comedy is the only thing that keeps this one standing. Without him, this movie would be a wavering drunk ready to topple over and completely flop. In fact, Aniston provides nothing in addition to Carrey’s antics. With that said, the two of them (Jim and Jen) together present just about as must chemistry as a ball of twine. Their affection is beyond bland and their eye contact is absent; they produce no romance - no sparks – no nothing.

Instead of taking the time to craft a reasonable screenplay from this semi-comical premise, the filmmakers just allowed Carrey to flaunt around and make his faces and odd mannerisms, and they then figured that that would be all they needed to sell seats — and they were right. Bruce Almighty, which cost only $81 million to make, earned an undeserving $86.4 million over its opening four-day Memorial Day weekend. Sadly, Jim's face is obviously enough to market any movie and make millions.

To be perfectly honest, when Jim Carrey promoted Bruce Almighty on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, he dished out a funnier and more enjoyable experience than the motion picture itself.(** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2004