There's nothing like a good comedy flick to lead in the summer, and
Jim Carrey's, "Bruce ALMIGHTY!" is the best of its breed. It's formula,
to be sure, and all been done before, but "Bruce" is funnier, wittier,
smarter, and - odd as this might sound - more sophisticated than its
predecessors. It's as though Carrey and his filmmaking partners refined
the comedy/romance formula to a science, because this film does exactly
what it intended to do: entertain.
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Like previous Carrey films, "Bruce ALMIGHTY!" follows the familiar plot
line where a down-on-his-luck guy gets a magical ability, fools with it
for a while for fun and laughs, and after he goofs up and learns his
big life lesson, walks away with the girl in the end. In fact, most
Carrey comedies follow this story, most with director, Tom Shadyac at
the helm. This time, Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a TV reporter who always
gets the humorous lifestyle stories, but never the big news stories that
will give him a future as an anchorman. True, he's great at his job,
has a great girlfriend, and seems to enjoy life to the fullest. But,
Bruce wants more out of life. His ambitions exceed his abilities, so
bad things keep happening to him. When he finally breaks down in a bout
of self-pity, he blames God for all his failures. God, in response, has
a meeting with Bruce, and decides to give him all the powers that He,
himself, possesses. With that, Bruce goes on a wild ride of performing
magical acts and other deeds of self-indulgence to "right the wrongs"
that he feels were done to him. Through a series of hilarious and
well-crafted gags, complete with special effects, Bruce eventually makes
the big mistake that makes him realize that being God isn't all that easy,
and that he was perfectly happy with his life as it was.
There is no question that any film that broaches the subject of God
will noodle the zealots one extreme, or disgruntle the intellectual
community on the other, unless it delivers poignant messages, or makes
philosophically acute observations about the meaning of life. "Bruce"
doesn't even attempt to address these tougher subjects; but it carefully
inserts a couple one-line commentaries that make us unambiguously aware
that yes, the filmmakers are avoiding the subject, and they know we're
watching for it. This is done so well, in fact, that it's part of what
makes the movie so appealing to a wide audience.
As for Carrey himself, It's true that Jim's a unique actor, and he's
shown capabilities far beyond the notorious over-the-top physical comedy
he's best known for. But, his funny side is still where his genius lies,
and he has traditionally fostered a relationship with a rather narrow
audience because of his style. So, those who are not Jim Carrey fans
might find it hard to bring themselves to see "Bruce ALMIGHTY!" But,
I think they'd be surprised; his humor is less reckless, arbitrary, and
irrelevant to the storyline. Instead, "Bruce" is funny largely because
he remains within the framework and context of the story, supporting
characters, and the persona he endows in his own character.
To that end, all the supporting actors are perfectly cast as well. Morgan
Freeman depicts "God" exactly as I'd like to see Him, and Jennifer
Aniston as Bruce's girlfriend makes her relationship with him all the more
believable. I should also mention Steven Carell's role as a news anchor
is tearfully hilarious in his own right. He came from Comedy Central's
"The Daily Show", where he also played a TV reporter for a ½-hour show
that spoofs the news nightly.
In the end, "Bruce ALMIGHTY!" succeeds in doing exactly what it intended
to do, and works at every level. Even the use of a few four-letter words
didn't seem inappropriate (it's rated PG-13). I'd say it's perfect for
the whole family, and a refreshing way to start the summer.
You can find this movie on the internet database here: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0315327
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