The mature Jim Carrey is not the lunatic who gatecrashed the party in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective all those years ago, but he can still make the faces and is bursting to break out. Either you love him, or hate him. If you love him, you want all that idiocy and in Bruce Almighty you get a taste, but not the full metal jacket.

The problem, as always, is the script. About three quarters of the way through, it goes gooey, which is not Carrey at all. His natural humour is anarchic. He's never been a nice guy comedian. He likes to sabotage machinery and burn down the house, not give moral lectures on how to live a good life.

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To say that this is nothing like funny enough is to suggest that it's not funny at all, which is wrong, because it is, some of the time. Also, the chemistry with Jennifer Aniston, who plays his long suffering girlfriend, is terrific, possibly because Aniston's a much better actress than people think.

Magic movies are a bit of a cheat, really, because if you can do anything, where do you start? Something like Groundhog Day, which is a magic movie, had strict rules that Bill Murray managed to break, once he got the hang of it. Carrey becomes all powerful, as Bruce Almighty, and there are no rules to tie him down, except one: "You can't mess with free will."

To begin at the beginning, Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a TV journalist on a local Buffalo station, who is given the silly stories to report, because that's his style. All he thinks about is getting the anchor job when the veteran broadcaster, who holds the post, retires next week. His arch rival (Steven Carell) will be a shoo-in, you know, because he's clean, neat and dull, while Bruce is a loose cannon.

When things go wrong, he rages at God for not giving a damn and suddenly finds himself in an empty office with a black man (Morgan Freeman) who appears to be the janitor. He turns out to be The Almighty, who is prepared to hand over his responsibilities to Bruce, just so that he'll learn what a difficult job it is.

The possibilities for comic mayhem are endless, now that he is the ultimate magician, but his single-track mind focuses on the TV station and that elusive anchor slot, although later is bowled over by a crisis on the romantic front, upon which he has no influence, as it concerns free will.

The film slips into a formulaic mould. God tells Bruce: "If you want to see a miracle, be the miracle." Lessons are about to be learned.

Despite the involvement of Freeman, not enough is made of his blessed divinity. Angelic interference in the world of men was handled with more imagination in A Life Less Ordinary and more irreverence in Dogma. Compared with these, Bruce Almighty appears conservative.

Carrey is back with director Tom Shadyac, with whom he made the first Ace Ventura movie and Liar Liar, both of which are funnier than this. After the disappointments of Man On The Moon and The Majestic, he looks relaxed now and happy again.

Reviewed on: 26 Jun 2003
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Jim Carrey becomes the Almighty, pray it isn't so.
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Read more Bruce Almighty reviews:

Stephen Carty ****
Tony Sullivan **

Director: Tom Shadyac

Writer: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Steve Oedekerk

Starring: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Baker Hall, Catherine Bell, Lisa Ann Walter, Steve Carell, Nora Dunn, Eddie Jemison, Paul Satterfield, Mark Kiely

Year: 2003

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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