) is having some problems. In a single day he is passed over for a promotion, fired, smashes up his car, and is beaten up by a street gang. He blames God
for his run of bad luck, equating the lord as a kid with a magnifying glass
and he himself as an ant. In an angry tirade he declares that "the kid gloves are coming off" with respect to God and his belief system because of his own prayers and wishes being ignored. He demands that God show himself and explain his divine plan. The next day Bruce begins receiving a series of messages on his pager
that lead him to a rundown old factory; a place called OmniPresence
on the faded lettering outside. Inside he meets God
himself (Morgan Freeman
) and, after convincing Bruce that he really is the Almighty One
, explains that Bruce is to take on all of God's powers and abilities while the lord is on vacation. There are only two rules to the arrangement: nobody can find out that Bruce is God, and Bruce cannot use his powers to change someone's free will
. And so we have Bruce Almighty
, the 2003 PG-13 film release directed by Tom Shadyac
(who previously worked with Carrey
in Liar, Liar
Bruce Almighty is a fun summer romp of a film. Adults will like it for its thought-provoking concepts of morality, responsibility, and faith, while little kids will like the gags where Bruce's dog pees on the stereo. In the first week that Bruce has the power of God he makes a few changes that directly effect him, such as beating up the gang of toughs, getting some snappy new clothes, and seducing his girlfriend Grace Connelly (Jennifer Aniston). He pulls the moon closer to the Earth and creates several new, romantic stars in order to woo Grace, for example. What Bruce has yet to realize, however, is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. His stunt with the moon caused havoc with the tides in Japan, for instance. He also uses his powers to get his old job back (news reporter for non-news, such as a local bakery breaking large cookie records and such) but instead puts an amazing spin on the stories he covers, a feat that earns him the name "Mr. Exclusive". What starts out as a story on heroic police dogs winds up with the discovery of the body of Jimmy Hoffa. Ultimately Bruce has his eye on the job of anchorman, but it will take some work to pry loose the current anchor from the position.
While Bruce sleeps he hears the sounds of prayers coming from everyone around him in Buffalo, New York. God tells Bruce that those prayers will stack up if he doesn't handle them, and so Bruce conjures up a computer system to help deal with the prayer glut. The DVD release of the film will allow us to freeze-frame these brief scenes to get a better look at the subject line gags on the prayer e-mails. Some of the ones I spotted ranged from "lost dog" to "winning lottery numbers". Frustrated that the prayers are coming in faster than he can answer them, Bruce simply decides to grant them all just to get them out of the way. Ever wonder what would happen if everyone's prayers were granted? Due to the granting of the lottery wishes over 40,000 people win the lottery, causing payouts of only $17.00 per person and an investigation at the lottery commission. The film does what it can to portray prayer from God's point of view, deciding which prayers to answer and which to decline. It's not an overly spiritual film (c'mon, it's a Jim Carrey movie) but it does inspire some thinking about the nature of prayer.
There are plenty of great gags in the film, the characterizations are straight-up, and there's lots of subtle humor to be found. Watch for the moment when God says "Alrighty then" in a nod to Ace Venture: Pet Detective. The one drawback to the film that I noticed was that, as seems to be the case anymore, the film's trailer gave away the best parts of the film and ruined setups/payoffs that would have been much more clever and hilarious had the punchlines not been revealed in the advertisements. Don't let this stop you from taking in the movie, though. There are still plenty of other great moments and if you stay after the credits you'll get to see some great outtakes of Carrey screwing around on the set and flubbing his lines. Have faith in my opinion and go see Bruce Almighty.
Fun fact: God's phone number, 776-7373, actually belongs to several people around the USA. These people are quite angry at Universal Studios now after they have been receiving crank calls around the clock from people looking for God/Morgan Freeman. For the DVD release the number was changed to a traditional "555" fake number.