The concept is something we've all thought about. From the stoner kid next door to pop singer Joan Osborne: What if God was one of us? If an average Joe, or Bruce in this case, were granted God's powers and dominion over, say, the greater Buffalo NY area, what would happen? Well, if reality played out like "Bruce Almighty" you would have a marginal comedy.
A film like this has to walk a fine line: you can't make it too preachy or you risk alienating the Jim Carey fans. No one wants to see another "Majestic." If the humor is too crude, you could kill your box office in the bible belt. These societal limitations prevent "Bruce Almighty" from saying anything meaningful about how a mortal would use and/or abuse the powers of omnipotence, but you probably knew that the instant you saw "from the director of 'Liar, Liar,'" in the preview.
"Bruce Almighty" actually has quite a bit in common with "Liar Liar." Much of the creative team is the same, and there is a lesser Fletcher Reed living within Bruce Nolan. Bruce is self-centered news reporter who believes his life will turn around if only he could be an anchorman. Unfortunately, the television station he works for doesn't see the goofy, stretchy-faced Bruce as newsdesk material. After getting into a shouting match with his girlfriend Grace (Jennifer Aniston), Bruce turns his anger towards God. Bruce accuses God of being irresponsible and needlessly tormenting Bruce like a "kid with a magnifying glass and I'm the ant." In response, God (Morgan Freeman) endows Bruce with all of his powers to prove to him that being God isn't as simple as it seems.
The first thing Bruce does is to satisfy his most base human desires which include increasing his girlfriend's breast size and giving himself a better car. Then, in one of the funniest scenes this year, Bruce sets out to claim the anchor job from his nemesis Evan, played brilliantly by both Carrey and Steve Carell (TV's "The Daily Show"). Unfortunately, the rest of the plot plays out exactly as anyone over the age of eleven would expect. After the somewhat-imaginative exploration of Bruce's powers, the film meanders into textbook territory for the final thirty minutes.
This film is not especially well-written and is only moderately well-conceived. But it reminds you why Jim Carrey is the star that he is. The guy knows how to find the humor of a scene and make the most of every word and expression. I was dead-set on not laughing at all during this movie, but Carrey won me over in the end. There is a lot to forgive in this film, but if you can put your faith in Jim Carrey to entertain, it's worth matinee price.