Now here was a movie that I was honestly curious about when it first came out. I mean, who didn’t dream about having the powers of God at one point in their life, or at least the power to do whatever you wanted. There was only one problem with this movie that kept me from going to see it, Jim Carrey. I used to like watching Jim Carrey’s movies but after time, I started liking them less and less because he seemed to basically play the same character all the time. So I never went to see Bruce Almighty in the theaters but when it came out TV, I would catch it every now and then and decided to go ahead and pick a copy on the cheap after a few times.
The plot: Bruce Nolan is a field reporter for a television station in Buffalo, NY but has dreams of becoming the lead anchor. After doing a local story on a bakery trying to bake the largest cookie, Bruce’s girlfriend, Grace Connelly, tries to cheer him up but he continues to mope about his situation. After dropping Grace off at the daycare she works at, Bruce gets stuck in traffic and is late to work, where he learns that his story is being dropped in exchange for a story that his rival, Evan Baxter, had done. After the meeting, Bruce talks with Jack Baylor, the station manager, and tries to convince him to give him a shot at a major story instead of the small time daily stories he does that constantly get unaired, and Jack decides to send him to do a live report at Niagara Falls. Bruce calls Grace to let her know about his live broadcast, thinking it is a sign that he will be getting the upcoming promotion to the anchor position but as he is being introduced to the audience, he learns that Evan has been given the promotion. Evan decides to take a jab at Bruce during his acceptance by using Bruce’s own words from his unaired story in his speech. When they cut to Bruce, he is frozen in shock at first by the announcement but then proceeds to go through with his story, taking the time to criticize the station and Evan for his perceived slights. Bruce ends up being fired and as he is leaving, he sees a street gang harassing a homeless man and yells out at them, causing them to leave but after checking on the homeless man, Bruce taunts the thugs, making them turn around and beat him up and vandalize his car. When Bruce gets home, he complains about everything that happened to Grace and though she tries to calm him down, he refuses to stop, upsetting her when he says he is tired of his mediocre life. Bruce drives off and decides to try praying to God for a miracle to occur but ends up crashing into a light pole, causing him to start yelling at God and blaming him for his misfortunes. As he finishes ranting, Bruce receives a page from a number he doesn’t recognize but he decides to ignore it. The next morning, Bruce is woken up by a page from the same number, prompting him to throw the pager out the window, where it is destroyed and run over, but when he rushes their dog outside to keep it from peeing in the house, he hears the ruined pager going off again and decides to call the number. When he calls, he hears the announcement specifically calling him out about a job and is directed to an abandoned warehouse. Heading inside, he sees a janitor mopping the floor, who directs Bruce on where he needs to go then asks for help but Bruce says he is busy and asks for a rain check. When Bruce gets up to the 7th floor, he finds the janitor there fixing a light and as Bruce thinks he is being pranked, the janitor removes his work clothes to reveal a white suit underneath, telling Bruce he is the boss. The man tells Bruce that he is God and Bruce doesn’t believe him at first when God says he is offering him all of his powers, until he sees himself with 7 fingers on his hand when he tries to trick him. Bruce runs out of the warehouse and ends up at a diner, where after a few accidental uses of God’s powers, God reappears and asks Bruce to walk with him. Walking across the nearby lake, God explains that there are two rules Bruce must follow; don’t tell anyone he is God and don’t mess with free will. God then tells Bruce he is going on vacation, leaving Bruce to handle things while he is gone. As Bruce starts to have some fun with his new powers, he sees the gang that beat him up the day before and decides to get revenge on them. Bruce then heads home, apologizing to Grace for how he acted the night before and using his new powers to make their sex better. The next day, Bruce wakes up hearing several voices in his head but shakes it off as a recurring dream, then tells Grace he is going to get his job back. Bruce shows up at a K9 training center just as a rival network finishes their story, and Bruce is able to get the scoop over them, as their van mysteriously locked itself, when one of the dogs uncovers the body of Jimmy Hoffa. As Bruce films a report about Hoffa’s discovery, and the rival news crew being arrested for marijuana possession, he returns to his former studio and is given the job of lead field reporter, where he makes it so that even more strange things miraculously occur while he is reporting. Bruce then goes to the studio while Evan is on air and proceeds to use his powers to cause Evan to make a fool of himself on camera. That night, Bruce takes Grace to the restaurant where they had their first date and he tells her that has gotten the promotion to an anchor position after Evan’s debacle on air but while she congratulates him, Grace is disappointed as she thought he was going to propose to her. Suddenly, Bruce starts hearing voices again and rushes out of the restaurant, when he suddenly finds himself on Mt. Everest with God. After messing with Bruce for a bit, God explains that the voices Bruce has been hearing are people’s prayers, which he has been ignoring, and suggest that Bruce try using his powers to help others instead of himself. That night, Bruce starts trying to come up with a way to get rid of the voices and converts the prayers to emails, then auto answers yes to all of them, figuring that will make everyone happy. Friday night, a party is held for Bruce’s upcoming promotion and Bruce calls the house, hoping to get Grace and convince her to show up, then uses his powers to get their dog Sam to help him. After trying to call the house again, Bruce is surprised by Susan, who starts kissing him but as he pushes her away, Hesees Grace in the door way. Grace storms off and Bruce follows after her, trying to convince her that it was an accident but Grace tells him she is staying at her sister’s house. Bruce uses his powers to try and get Grace to forgive him, making several signs appear near her but she tells him she doesn’t love him anymore. As Bruce’s first night as anchor is about to go on, all of the various prayers Bruce answered and events that he caused to happen result in chaos and riots occurring in the streets. Bruce leaves the studio and when he sees what is occurring, he calls out for God and suddenly finds himself in the warehouse. Bruce looks for God, who appears behind Bruce and reminds him of the rain check for helping clean the place and Bruce starts cleaning with God. When they finish, God subtly offers Bruce advise about what to do before he leaves, telling Bruce he can handle it. The next day, Bruce turns off the auto answer program with his emails, while doing some good deeds to people he sees in need. When he gets to the office, Bruce approaches Evan, who is packing up his things, and tells him that he turned down the anchor position and congratulates him on getting the job, saying he deserved it. As Bruce continues doing small things to help people, Grace’s sister Debbie shows up to pick up Grace’s things. As she is finishing, Bruce hands her the photo album that Grace had been working and Debbie is surprised to find that it is full, then tells Bruce that Grace prays a lot for him. Bruce checks his emails to see all the times Grace has prayed for him when he suddenly sees a new notification and sees Grace praying, asking God to help her stop loving him. Despondent, Bruce walks down the highway where he had wrecked his car and tells God that he doesn’t want the powers anymore and will let him decide what is best for him, just as he gets hit by a truck. Bruce is confronted by God and told to pray for something and Bruce prays for Grace to find someone that will make her happy. God tells him he will get right on that, then pushes Bruce, shocking Bruce just as the EMT’s are shocking his body to try and revive him. Bruce wakes up in a hospital and sees Grace at the doorway and she goes over to him and embraces him as the two make up. Some time later, Bruce is doing an news story about a blood drive, introducing Grace as his fiance during the report, and as the report finishes and Grace moves Bruce over to donate some blood himself, they pass by the homeless man that Bruce had helped and had kept appearing around town, who suddenly reveals that he was God all along.
Bruce Almighty met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Carrey is hilarious in the slapstick scenes, but Bruce Almighty gets bogged down in treacle.” During the scenes where God pages Bruce, the studio used an actual phone number instead of the usual fictional 555 number most movies use. The studio admitted that while the number used was not in use in the 716 area code, which is used in Buffalo, they did not check to see if it was used in any other area codes. Several people that used that number began receiving calls from people wanting to talk to God and when it was released on video and for television, the number was changed to 55-0123. Despite the mixed reviews, Bruce Almighty was a box office success, earning $484.6 million off of an $81 million budget and would spawn a spin-off sequel, Evan Almighty
This was not going to be the greatest comedy of all times but it was actually a better movie than I thought it would be. The acting was good, with Jim Carrey doing a good job as Bruce but Morgan Freeman was fantastic as God, and I honestly couldn’t think of a better person to play him, while the interaction between the two was great. Jennifer Aniston did a good job as Grace while Steve Carell made for a great foil for Carrey with his portrayal of Evan. The story was pretty good, essentially playing out the fantasy most people have had at one point or another; what would you do with the power to do anything. The best thing though is that they actual showed a fair amount of growth in Bruce throughout the movie, allowing him to break from his focusing on helping himself and his career with his powers and then using them to help others and being more selfless in his actions. The comedy aspects were a decent mix of slap-stick, which were pretty much all Jim Carrey, and some play on words and situational comedy but it was done to a very good effect. So yes, it is a good movie and one worth giving a chance.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5