U.S. Release Date: May 23, 2003
Distributor: Universal
Director: Tom Shadyac
Writer: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Steve Oedekerk
Producer: Gary Barber (executive), Roger Birnbaum (executive), Michael Bostick, Jim Carrey, Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Tom Shadyac
Composer: John Debney
Cast: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell
Running Time: 1 hour and 41 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (language, sexual content and some crude humor)

Submission to Oh, God
by Scott Holleran

There are moments when Bruce Almighty is funny—and nearly every one of them is in the trailer. Other than a few standup jokes and sight gags, director Tom Shadyac's comedy is one long, heavy dose of sanctimony.

Shadyac's been preachy before (Patch Adams) but he also directed Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. In Bruce Almighty, which presents Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey), a mediocre TV reporter who gets angry with God (Morgan Freeman), Shadyac's blend of religion and humor falls flat.

Carrey's Bruce is one of those broadcasters whose reports are more entertainment than news. He covers the city's biggest cookie, blood drives and other local boosterism. Bruce really wants to break away and become an anchorman. His dutiful girlfriend Grace (Jennifer Aniston, playing Rachel from TV's Friends again) loves him no matter what his goals. That makes Grace—who prays a lot, with politically correct avoidance of mentioning any specific religion—totally uninteresting. Grace is as responsive as an HMO.

Bruce is not much better. Carrey plays his character as a loud, hapless loser with a heart of gold who expects everything to come easily as some type of entitlement. When Bruce is passed up for a promotion, partly because he doesn't deserve it, he goes bananas—Grace shows as much interest in his work as she does in her job as a day care worker—and he starts blaming God.

Fed up with Bruce's taunts, God shows up to let Bruce try his hand at Divine Intervention and the predictable results—instant fame, fast cars, big boobs—follow. Despite the typical stream of unrelated jokes, though, Bruce Almighty is too religious to be funny, too funny to be religious and, ultimately, neither religious nor funny.

Besides a hilarious scene in which Holy Bruce metes out justice to an anchorman and the appeal of Carrey's regular routine, which is usually funny, the best thing about Bruce Almighty is the return of Saturday Night Live alumni Nora Dunn to the screen. The talented Dunn, who's heavier but no less striking, deserves better roles than a few lines as Bruce's co-worker.

The most devoted Carrey fans may find salvation in Bruce Almighty, but only fanatical believers will welcome the movie's barely intelligible theme: stop trying to be your best and submit to God.

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