I'll tell you the truth: I was once a huge Jim Carrey
fan. I loved both of the Ace Ventura
movies, which were basically nothing more than vehicles for Carrey's zany
, rubber-faced antics. I loved his work on In Living Color
, too. I think the guy was and still is a comic genius
, frankly. Which is why I'm so disappointed to see him taking on so many mediocre, "serious" roles in which his comedy is reduced to a side show
, his all-consuming lunacy
repackaged as an endearing quirk in an otherwise realistic character
Jim Carrey is not a realistic character, he's a cartoon, and it just looks silly casting him as Joe Average. With a permanent Joker's rictus plastered to his face (the guy is physically incapable of smiling like a regular human being), he's never gonna cut it as the everyman Hollywood seems convinced that he is.
The problem, I'm afraid, is that Carrey, like Robin Williams before him, has gotten it into his head that he is more than a goofball actor, that he can be a serious actor too, and that it's his mission to do at least one movie with a message for every wacky comedy. We lose more good comedians this way. It's an epidemic, really.
OK, maybe I went a little too far there, comparing him to Robin Williams and all. I didn't mean to get nasty. At least all of Carrey's movies are still ostensibly comedies. I guess I wouldn't mind the cheesy morality in a movie like Bruce Almighty so much if the comedy part were holding up its end of the bargain.
In Liar Liar, for instance, there was a message, but it knew it was playing second fiddle to the jokes, and it didn't try to hijack the whole movie for its own preening self-importance.* The plot device was pretty flimsy, but it did what it was supposed to do: get the man into some hilarious situations so they could slap them together and call it a film.
The plot device in Bruce Almighty is about as novel as crap in a toilet. Morgan Freeman is God, in a fine turn of casting (has this guy played God before? I don't know, but it's the role he was born to play.) God needs a vacation, or something, so he's giving Bruce the chance to take over for a while.
Bruce is a whiny ingrate of a news reporter who thinks his life is terrible because he gets passed over for the big anchor job, and because he has to sit in traffic on the way to work, and because he stepped in a puddle, etc., etc. Cleverly juxtaposed next to his incessant complaining are people being carried away from accidents on stretchers, and a homeless guy who holds up punny, insightful signs**, and the fact that his girlfriend is Jennifer Aniston. Ohhhh, I get it, he's taking his life for granted!
Must... curb... vitriol...
So anyway, Bruce gets to be God, which means he can do anything, aside from altering free will. Naturally, hijinks and hilarity ensue. But not enough hijinks, and definitely not enough hilarity. There were some scenes where I laughed and it wasn't a forced, "damn, he's really trying!" kind of laugh. One of them involved Steve Carell more than Jim Carrey. Most of the time I amused myself by whispering the characters' lines to myself just before they said them.
At the end, it dawns on us that God orchestrated this whole thing just to give Bruce a chance to learn a big important life lesson. Talk about a shocker!
The plot shouldn't be important; I shouldn't have anything to say, positive or negative, about it. It's a Jim Carrey movie, for chrissakes. But this plot is so prominent, and so bursting with facile morality, that I'm forced to retaliate. It's preachy, simplistic, saccharine bullshit, and it got on my nerves, OK? Robin Williams probably turned down this part to go make Jumanji 2.
I'm sorry, that was inappropriate and hurtful. Look, this isn't even that terrible a movie; I should be writing this review under The Majestic. I guess it was just the straw that broke the camel's back. I know Jim Carrey is better than this, and I hope he gets his groove back some day. I hope he remembers what his gifts are, dispenses with the Oscar-chasing or whatever it is he thinks he's doing, and goes back to making his buttcheeks talk.
For the Robin Williams fans out there: I'm only funnin'. He's played some good serious roles.
* By the way, I'm not giving Liar Liar any hearty endorsement either, I just think it made better use of Carrey and didn't try to invest the gimmick with too much meaning.
** Apparently homeless people are actually virtuous sages in disguise who spend the majority of their time writing cutesy aphorisms designed to nudge wayward souls toward their salvation. Actually, the film seemed to be saying that this particular urban outdoorsman was God incarnate, as his head inexplicably and frighteningly morphed into Morgan Freeman's in the disturbing finale.