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PCR # 166  (Vol. 4, No. 22)  This edition is for the week of May 26--June 1, 2003.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Bruce Almighty"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars!

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Universal Pictures     
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Tom Shadyac
Rated: PG13
Running Time: 1 hour 43 mins

Back in 1985, Jim Carrey was supposed to be a star. Billed then as "James" Carrey, he starred in the vampire comedy "Once Bitten." Needless to say, it wasn't a hit. After a stint on televisions' "In Living Color," he tried movies again. Movies like "The Mask" and "Ace Venture: Pet Detective" went on to make millions. But Carrey wanted to be known as more then the guy who talked out of his butt. He wanted to be known as an actor, not a clown. Roles in such films as "The Truman Show," "Man On The Moon" and "The Majestic" showed he could handle drama, but they weren't blockbusters. Word spread that he was just courting an Oscar with his film choices. And to be honest, I was SHOCKED that he wasn't nominated for his portrayal of Andy Kaufman in "Man On The Moon." In recent interviews, Carrey has stated that now he's just going to go with what interests him, critics or box-office not withstanding. His first film out of the gate, "Bruce Almighty," is a solid choice.

If you're like me, you've had one of those days where it seems like whatever could go wrong does. You've lost your keys, stepped in a puddle, tripped going up the stairs.........you were a virtual Murphy's Law. And, if you're like me, you've silently asked God why he was picking on you. Such is the case with Bruce Nolan. (Carrey) Bruce is the "wacky" human-interest reporter for a local Buffalo television station. His goal is the soon-to-be-vacant anchor position, but he feels that by doing stories about giant cookies his work isn't being taken seriously. (How's that for a comparison with the real life Carrey?) He is living with Grace, a beautiful elementary school teacher (Aniston) who supports his dreams but has a few of her own. After a particularly bad day at the office, Bruce begins to berate God for having abandoned him. He asks for a sign of God's existence but then ignores it. For a while.

While visiting a supposed deserted building, Bruce comes across a friendly janitor who tells him his meeting is on the 7th floor. When Bruce gets to the correct floor the janitor is there to meet him. Stripping off his coveralls the janitor tells Bruce that he is God. In all of his white suited splendor and dignified air, Morgan Freeman is the perfect actor to take on this role. He has a quiet quality about him that makes you want to trust him. God tells Bruce that He is tired of his complaining and that if he thinks he can do a better job, so be it. He tells Bruce that he is now endowed with God's powers and he should do with them what he wishes. At first, Bruce has fun with his new skills. He parts his tomato soup, arranges stars and the moon for a romantic evening and even causes the new anchor man to appear to break down on air. He also uses his powers to create a series of mysterious occurrences that only he gets the story on. The only drawback are the voices he keeps hearing in his head, doing his best to tune them out.

After a week, Bruce meets up with God who asks him what good he has done. Admitting that he really hasn't helped anyone, he learns from God that the voices he is hearing are the millions of prayers offered up to God daily. He needs to listen to each one and act accordingly. Of course, Bruce is a lazy deity and decides to just grant every prayer. Of course, by not paying attention to what he is doing, Bruce makes things worse. Not only that, but his new found celebrity has pushed him away from Grace. Bruce begins to realize that maybe being All Mighty is not what it's cracked up to be.

It's a pleasure to see Carrey back at his comedic best and it's a tribute to director Shadyac that Carrey's performance is both funny and honest. This is the fourth time the two have worked together and they have obviously found a common ground in their relationship. Aniston is very good as Grace. She loves Bruce and it shows. Steven Carell is hilarious as the anchor-man with no control of his actions. But it is Freeman that impresses most. God has been played on screen by everyone from George Burns (grandfatherly) to Graham Chapman (sarcastic) to John Huston (omnipresent) but Freeman manages to capture all of these qualities in his performance. And to be honest, who wouldn't want to see Morgan Freeman waiting for us on the other side of the Pearly Gates? On a scale of zero to four stars I give "Bruce Almighty"  

This week's movie review of "Bruce Almighty" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2003, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.