After a poorly received stint in the serious Jim Carrey gets back to the world of comedy in Bruce Almighty. But he can't shake off all the dramatic blues and thus Almighty does a great job of balancing the realm of insane funnies with a few notes of bittersweet.
Bruce Almighty stars Jim Carrey in the role his ego was born to play: God. Well technically Morgan Freeman is God, but he lets Carrey have a turn at it too after his character, Bruce Nolan, has the worst day of his life. Bruce is an ambitious and headstrong news reporter with a gift for laughter. As a result he's pigeonholed into doing cheesy fluff pieces about cookies while corporate ass kissers (Steve Carrell) get promoted to the anchor desk. When everything falls apart, Bruce blames the Almighty One, who in turn decides to teach him a lesson by letting him have a chance to do a better job himself.
Smart people who grow thick mustaches and actually get paid to review movies keep telling me that Bruce Almighty is just passably fun and barely worthy of note. I just can't see it like that. Bruce Almighty is not Jim Carrey's funniest film, nor is it necessarily the most memorable. But it is a wonderful return to form for film's funniest funnyman, who for a time was lost and is now again found. Ok, so the script isn't particularly imaginative. I can't say that anything in this movie is. Yet questions of script creativity are for the most part irrelevant in the face of overwhelming chemistry and comedic electricity from its primary cast of one.
Almighty is a perfect environment in which to feed the Jim Carrey need to cut loose and be maniacally wacky. When given the opportunity to become all powerful and do good, Bruce Nolan spends his time getting revenge and giving his girlfriend spontaneous orgasms. If we're honest, those are the same things we'd all be doing given that same ultimate power. We just wouldn't be as funny to watch when we do it. However, it is nice to see that Almighty doesn't muck about too much with the morality of the God thing, subjecting us to a beating of sappy moments in which Bruce runs around trying to be the better man that no man in his right mind would ever be. That's not to say the character isn't a good guy... he really is. He's kind, likable, funny, even loving. He's just also imperfect and flawed like everyone inevitably is.
The movie also has the sense to avoid questions of specific religious faiths, without losing the poignancy of a man actually communicating with God. Religion can be a touchy subject, but Almighty dances through the Jesus minefield with style and class. It doesn't avoid digging deep into faith; it just doesn't blow up any religious nuclear bombs. Instead, Bruce Almighty is gut-bustingly hilarious, which is generally what you want from a Comedy; not pseudo-religious piety.
Partnered once again with director and writing partner Tom Shadyac, the Jim Carrey we all knew and loved is back and just as funny as ever. Mixing in just the right amount of heartstring pulling, make-you-think emotion with maniacal deeds of godly greed, Carrey shines like new. Morgan Freeman is a revelation as God, filling that role better than well... anyone I've ever seen play him before. Even George Burns would be jealous. Aniston is hot and believable when she cries. Fortunately that's all this film needs from her. In his bit role, former "Daily Show" alum Steven Carrell is HILARIOUS as Jim Carrey's arch nemesis and maybe, just maybe his notable second tier stint will let us see even more of him.
In the end, Bruce learns to treasure the gifts he has been given. For him that means accepting his greatness when it comes to those fluff pieces and that through them he brings joy to his viewers. Moving up to that Anchor desk might pay more, but once there his much rarer talent for humor would be wasted. For Jim Carrey, that Anchor desk is named Oscar. Hopefully Jim, as Bruce did, has at last realized where his own considerable gifts lie. Keep making us laugh.