Bruce Almighty

May 28, 2003 at 12:00 am

Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is living a relatively wonderful life. He’s got a good woman and, more or less, a good job, car and dog. For your average guy, he’s at least touching the brass ring. Bruce is far from average, though: He’s a fool. And he’s not an average one, but the clown prince of fools.

The crank is one of the most aggravating kind of fools. Some have a disorder of the mind’s eye that compels them to find the cloud around every silver lining. Some peddle their unsolicited solutions to the world’s problems. Bruce scores two-for-two.

Though he’s a reporter for a major Buffalo TV station, he resents the fluffy assignments he seems to have a knack for — that and being denied the news anchor chair he covets; his sports car just seems a magnet for traffic jams, Chicano vandals and accidents; and his running joke of a dog seems mostly a furry fountain of urine aimed at his living room furniture. His girl? Well, even Jennifer Anniston’s Grace, the perfect would-be wife-in-waiting, could have bigger tits. Suffering what he perceives to be hardships, Bruce laments like Jerry Lewis channeling Jesus on the cross, “God, why do you hate me?”

Where most cranks spend a fortune giving their two cents’ worth on worldly matters like sports and politics, Bruce’s mouth writes a check his oh-too-mortal flesh can’t cash when he believes his metaphorical arms are long enough to box with God (Morgan Freeman). So, like a housewife fed up with her husband asking what she does around the house all day, God puts the chores — and the powers and responsibilities — of running Buffalo in Bruce’s incapable hands. Of course, much rubber-mugging and omnipotent slapstick hilarity ensue — with romantic comedy, melodrama and a moral that shows that the most important things in life are hearth and home.

Bruce Almighty is funny. But while Anniston and Freeman withstand the bluster of Carrey’s shtick, the movie’s well-meaning message suffers. This comic fable ends up being a Carrey vehicle that begs comparison to It’s a Wonderful Life. Can Bruce Almighty live up to it? Of course it doesn’t have a prayer.

James Keith La Croix writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].