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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Retro Review: Bruce Almighty (2003)

Bruce Almighty
Cast: Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Phillip Baker Hall, Lisa Ann Walter, Steve Carell
Genre: Fantasy Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $484 million 

Plot: A guy who complains about God too often is given almighty powers to teach him how difficult it is to run the world

'Almiiiighty Then!'

Released in 2003, Bruce Almighty was Jim Carrey's first big-screen Hollywood studio movie since Liar Liar/The Truman Show and this one took on biblical themes. As someone who isn't religious & doesn't practice any form of religion, I was going into this movie from the perspective of a general moviegoer and film audience & judging it solely as a comedy and less so in terms of the religious themes and aspects. The fact that this film poked fun at religion and at God was something that didn't impact my overall and general feelings as a movie. All I was looking forward towards was an enjoyable, light-hearted film with heart and likeable characters that I can root for.

When a TV news reporter based in Buffalo, New York in Bruce Nolan becomes fed up with life and frustrated at work, he takes his anger out on God & blaming him for his ills. Selfish Bruce then takes his anger and frustrations out on his girlfriend Grace, after he arrives home after being beaten up by some thugs. As a result, God offers his powers to Bruce just to see if he can do a far better job than the man in White. In fact, he has a bit of a God complex to him also. With all the godly powers at his disposal and all the popularity and unforeseen good he has gained that has also gone right to his head, the one thing he is in danger of losing is Grace. Alas, by the Grace of God, when he does so, Bruce has to go out of his way to win her back. 

The element of this film that truly warmed my heart was the relationship between Bruce and Grace, due to Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston's onscreen coupling partnership, which worked like a charm. Apart from the wacky comedy, there is that romantic comedy subplot underpinning it that also acts as the bridge for the film's story. Bruce in love with and who has Grace virtually by his side, and doing all these nice things for her, only to lose her at the spur of the moment. They have a great passion together, their love scene was amusing but cute as well and I truly sensed their mutual love & how much they care for one another. Speaking of Aniston, even though she played the supporting role to Carrey's star role, I really liked how grounded her character was amidst all of the craziness that takes place, partly thanks and no thanks to Carrey's Bruce. I was never a huge fan of the sitcom, Friends, but Aniston here was a great foil for Carrey & she displayed a wider range of her acting. 

Directed by Tom Shaydoc who directed Liar Liar and Patch Adams, the thing that worried me was how preachy this film was going to become and that the religious messages would be so overt and overdone. Luckily and fortunately that wasn't so much the case, and besides, they are done in a tongue and cheek way and most of them weren't as heavy as I'd anticipated. There are also one or two genuinely amusing scenes that made me smile and the special effects scenes draw some similarities with 1994's The Mask. & when Carrey is funny, it is great. One example is putting 'words' in a newscaster's mouth, with the newscaster played by Steve Carrell speaking gibberish. 

Bruce Almighty is atypical Jim Carrey comedy vehicle with religious themes, but it is also a lot less toned down and with added heart, & coupled with a good support cast that includes Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman. It merely treads on Liar Liar's familiar waters of the not so nice guy trying to do right what he did wrong. 

A melding of the romantic comedy with fantasy comedy and drama, this one wasn't too bad, so to speak. 

Final Verdict:

Heartfelt, not too preachy as I'd expected, this was surprisingly reasonable as I'd fully anticipated and the last 10 mins were well done and I enjoyed it. I also liked that even with the manic humour one expected from Jim Carrey, he is not so over-the-top as he usually is in his other roles and there were moments where he showed restraint, particularly in the latter scenes with Jennifer Aniston. They worked off each so well, & far more so than with Jim Carrey and Courtney Cox in Ace Ventura

The cast did really well and but for one or two biblical messages, I wasn't bombarded with the deeply religious overtone that had it gone any more deeper, it would have thrown me off. 

In all, this is a harmless and well-done comedy that also can double up as a rom-com of sorts. Bruce Almighty is mighty good fun and a film that I can appreciate and consume in small doses. 


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