Monday, April 25, 2005

Spare Us Bruce Almighty!

I was very curious about Bruce Almighty, although I never know what to expect from a Jim Carrey movie. I loved him in The Truman Show, and Liar, Liar, but The Cable Guy set my teeth on edge, and I'm not a fan of The Mask.

Carrey was not bad in Bruce Almighty, but he wasn't good enough to save a big nothing of a script. The fact that the premise was really interesting makes it even sadder that the script went nowhere. Jennifer Anderson seemed weirdly off-kilter as the girlfriend; the script didn't make use of her comic talents.

Tom Shadyak's direction didn't help the plot, either. He directed Carrey in Liar, Liar and Ace Ventura and in fairness, it may be that someone who liked both of those films might take a kinder view of Bruce Almighty.

The most entertaining performance in the film was Morgan Freeman's low-key God. He held his own against Carrey's gyrations with commanding stillness, and with humor that in lesser hands would not have fared so well. While Aniston looked as if she wondered how she'd wandered into the set, and how she might escape it, Freeman seemed privately amused by all the nonsense. When I punched up his entry on the IMDB database, I was happy to see that he has several other films in the pipeline, as of this writing.

Freeman's performance made me think about God in the movies. George Burns played the part in 1977's Oh, God!. With Carl Reiner directing and Larry Gelbart writing, it is no surprise that Burns' was a Jewish God, with a distinct Borscht Belt flavor. It was hard not to like that God, but for shock value, nothing quite compares to Alanis Morissette's God in Dogma. God according to Morgan Freeman is different still: he does not suffer fools, but he has a sense of humor and a patient air of having seen it all before. He's less amused with himself than Burns' God, and less alarming than Morissette's.

While watching Bruce Almighty hardly qualified as time in hell, watching the credits roll gave me a feeling of relief that I imagine for an ascension from purgatory. Thumb's down!


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