Bruce Almighty | movie review
Movie summary: A whiny news reporter is given the chance to step into God's shoes. (IMDb)
Bruce Almighty is one of those movies where the performance of the lead character, Jim Carrey as Bruce Nolan in this case, are enough to keep you enjoying the movie throughout, only to then start wondering exactly why once it's done. And Carrey is genuinely good fun to watch from start to finish, but the rest of the movie has a lot of issues that hold it back from living up to his performance.
For me, the biggest issue is that the idea of giving a mortal all of a supreme being's powers is somewhat limited by the movie being a fairly gentle comedy/romantic comedy. There's a lot of really interesting and intriguing ideas that are either skimmed over or kept to the background, such as news reports about the unintended consequences of Bruce changing things with the power he is given.
Bruce Almighty also suffers from the main character being an arsehole from the very start, making me wonder just why Jennifer Aniston's Grace is even with him in the first place. The movie doesn't really provide any reason for them to be a couple other - they repeatedly say they love each other, but we never really see why Grace would feel so much for Bruce, who is a world-class narcissist.
Then there's the issue of giving someone unlimited power with the only restriction being that Bruce can't affect free will - a rule broken often in the movie, although it does lead to a fantastic performance from Steve Carell as Evan, a rival of Bruce, when he is forced to spout complete gibberish as anchor on the evening news, much to Bruce's delight.
I know it sounds like I wanted a different movie, but there's so much potential that it's more frustrating than anything to see the premise feel somewhat wasted - I think Bruce Almighty almost has too broad a canvas to justify how limited the concept ends up being. Focusing on Bruce and Grace's relationship while leaving the job-related moments as secondary material - or vice versa - would've worked better and justified Bruce not really taking advantage of being a god if he got focused on solving one issue in particular.
And just as a note/warning, this is a very religion/faith-centric movie - which you'd obviously expect from a movie where God is a character, played here by Morgan Freeman. It doesn't ever get preachy, but there are some moments which may make those who aren't particularly religious (including me) roll their eyes - those moments don't last long, but they are.
Despite all this criticism, I did still enjoy watching Bruce Almighty again and not in a "switch your brain off and enjoy" way either. It's more a case of staying aware of the type of movie you're watching and not expecting it to really get into its premise, which is only really used for light humour more than anything profound or meaningful.
Bruce Almighty is some nice fluff, but feels somewhat handicapped by its nature as a gentle comedy for Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston to headline, resulting in what could've been some genuinely interesting stories been cut off before they ever got going. Add in other little issues here and there and it's not quite as good as it could've been, but still not a bad way to spend your time.