Bruce Almighty (2003)

Directed by Tom Shadyac

In the movie Bruce Almighty we get some of the “old” Jim Carrey audiences loved so much. While it’s not Me, Myself and Irene, it does allow him to do his physical comedy once again.

If not the first, Jim Carrey was certainly one of the first comedians in the recent past few decades to become popular with a broad, physical and juvenile kind of comedy. (The word “juvenile” isn’t used as a disparagement here.)

The point here is the humour was essentially slapstick mixed with smart-ass comments. It was a kind of lowbrow entertainment. Carrey was and still is brilliant at this kind of humour.

The problem, however, is that it is the kind of humour that wears thin pretty quickly.

The curse Carrey faces is that he was a little too good at it. He is so identified with it now it is difficult to break out from.

Audiences have been reluctant to allow him to move past it and, to give audiences a fair shake, they have had little reason to.

Carrey himself struggles with “bringing it down” and performing without the broad physical movement and gestures he’s known for. When he does manage it, he somehow doesn’t quite make it. He seems lost when playing straight though he has improved greatly over the last few years. (This may also be a result of working in waek movies like The Majestic.)

This brings us to Bruce Almighty. It is a film that, like the earlier Liar, Liar tries to find a happy medium between the broad comedy of Carrey’s earlier work and the straighter material he’s been trying find credibility within. It’s the best kind of film for him to do if making that transition is the goal. However, the key that has been missed here is a good script.

The script for Bruce Almighty seems to have been dictated in a board room.

First part of movie: establish Carrey as regular guy with troubles.

Part two: make him God so he can do that funny physical stuff he does.

Part three: some kind of happy ending.

What we end up with is a film with some funny moments, a few of them quite funny.

Between these moments there are lengthy tedious scenes used as a bridge. (I watched the DVD at home – there were three of us. While there were some chuckles, two kept falling asleep.)

The film also has Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Aniston. Both are good, though they didn’t really have to do a great deal. They are simply props for Carrey to work off of. In both cases, it’s a huge waste of talent.

I think, for Jim Carrey, the future does hold that movie he’s looking for – the one where he can be someone other than “Jim Carrey.” But he needs a much better script and probably a director who knows something something more about directing actors.

I don’t think Bruce Almighty was intended to be Jim Carrey’s “great role.” It was simply the usual thing to keep his name in the public and make some money. To that extent, it’s been successful.

But honestly, it’s a pretty weak effort and a forgettable movie.

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