Film Reviews PAGE 3

This page was created on December 21, 2002
This page was last updated on May 23, 2005

Review and Interview -click here
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Bruce Almighty:
Just Ignore the Trailer
--Review by Frederick Davis

I was with a group of friends last year when I first saw the trailer for Bruce Almighty. It depicted Jim Carrey as Bruce Nolan, a down-on-his-luck news reporter who, when he rails against God for dropping the ball, is "handed the reigns" and instructed to see if he can do a better job running the world (or part of it, anyway). He then proceeded to use his powers to do some naughty things.

We commented, almost in unison, on the obvious blasphemy. I found the basic premise interesting, but since it appeared to mock one of the defining attributes of God, his omnipotence, I expected it to make me very angry.

A few months later, I saw the trailer again, but this time, a question occurred to me. Had God been doing these things, of course, this would be blasphemous. But is it blasphemous to show a sinful man making bad decisions? After all, we remember how hotheaded Peter wanted to use his power to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritan village (Luke 9:54-56), and was strongly rebuked by Jesus.

At this point, I realized that the film could go in one of two directions. I hoped that it would take a Judeo-Christian worldview, showing that mankind has major problems, no matter how much power is given to them. But I feared it might take a humanist approach, and portray power as the only thing we need.

As I researched the film further, I discovered that the director, Tom Shadyac (Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor, Dragonfly) was a professing Christian. At this point, my interest was piqued. I hoped for the best, but I was prepared for anything.


The film begins with Bruce, a "wacky" television reporter with a knack for making people laugh, working his standard assignment; a syrupy sweet human-interest story. But for someone who claims Walter Kronkite as his hero, covering the baking of Buffalo, New York's largest cookie is somewhat less than rewarding.

He complains to his girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Anniston, Friends, The Good Girl), about what he sees as his mediocre life, and blames every one of his problems on God, whom he compares to a kid sitting by an anthill with a magnifying glass, tormenting him.

The level of his self absorption is truly revealed in one of my favorite shots in the film. As Bruce sits, late for work, in a monstrous traffic jam, he beats the steering wheel and yells out, "This is my luck!" just as paramedics wheel a man in a full neck and back brace past Bruce's window.

Of course, Bruce's day goes downhill from there, the worst moment occurring when he finds out, while waiting to go on the air, that the promotion he wanted went to his workplace nemesis, Evan Baxter (hilariously played by Steven Carell, The Daily Show). He loses it and says the f-word while still on the air, which results in his getting fired.

This, along with a number of other events, causes Bruce to scream out at God. "You're the one who should be fired," he says, and challenges Him, "Smite me, O mighty smiter!"

God (Morgan Freeman, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption) responds, but rather than smiting Bruce, he summons him to a sparse industrial loft where he offers Bruce a job. God will temporarily give him all of his power, since Bruce seems to think that he can do a better job. There are two rules, though. Bruce can't tell anyone that he's god, and he can't "mess with free will."

However, Bruce is only given the power of God, and not the wisdom. He proceeds to make a huge mess of things, resulting in everything from natural disasters to financial calamities. And when Grace becomes fed up with his immaturity and leaves, a broken Bruce says to God, "How do you make someone love you without affecting free will?" God replies, "Welcome to my world. When you figure that one out, let me know."

Bruce undergoes a dramatic change throughout the course of this film. The "sinful" choices he makes in the beginning (upon which the trailer focuses), are presented as negative, and the fact that there are consequences for these actions is made clear.

While he never prays the "sinner's prayer," he definitely has what I would call a "conversion experience." He literally falls on his knees before God and cries out, "I surrender to your will!"

Some complain that this film doesn't clearly present the Gospel of Jesus, and that's true, it doesn't. But it does focus on man's weakness in contrast with God's wisdom and love. In fact, Bruce ultimately realizes that true love for someone else comes only through seeing him or her through God's eyes.

The Bottom Line

While the trailer presents the film as a comedy that makes light of God, the film itself does just the opposite. God, as presented in this film, is loving, wise, graceful, and yes, holy. He has a sense of humor, but never laughs at a joke that is not above reproach.

The ultimate message: God is infinitely wiser and more loving than we are (Isa 55:9), but he still expects us to do what we can to care for each other (John 13:35). God is always there when we need him (Jer. 33:3), but we shouldn't expect him to use miracles to solve all of our earthly problems (James 1:3).

The ultimate solution to the real problems of life come through the finished work of Christ on the cross. Bruce Almighty doesn't communicate that truth, but it doesn't deny it, either. (After all, does It's a Wonderful Life or The Sound of Music communicate the Gospel of Christ?)

Bruce Almighty is simply intended to plant a seed. It's up to God to bring the increase.

By David Bruce
Web Master
 Click to enlarge   Click to enlarge
This is Heaven! It is all white, just as it was portrayed in Life Less Ordinary. And the role of God is played by Morgan Freeman, -who else? African-American actors have been a popular choice for the role of God in such recent films as Bedazzled, and Legend of Bagger Vance.
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Bruce Nolan (Jim Carey) is given the gift of being God for a day. He suddenly realizes he has extraordinary powers. He can even walk on water, just as he did in The Truman Show. Walking on water is a very Christ-like thing to do -watch RealVideo.
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"YAHWEH! Insta-Prayer" is the name of the e-mail interface the Bruce Almighty uses. It is a take off, of course, on Yahweh! and the Hebrew name of God. There seems to be a lot of clever thinking in this film.
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Familiar Bible verses are worked into the script. Bruce quotes Genesis 1:3 as he lights supernaturally, "Let there be light." Humor is also exhibited in when a dog learns to use a toilet like a human -spell dog backwards to appreciate this one.
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God like gestures, such as a meditation stance and a crucified position are utilized to suggest Godlike qualities.

Go to CommandmentsThe film centers around Bruce's angry rage against God -- the result of a bad day -- and God responds by giving Bruce with divine powers, and then challenges him to take on the big job and see if he can do it any better! Other recent films that probe frustration with God are Commandments and Patch Adams.

Jim Carey as the Almighty -now there is a very scary thought. Which of course makes this a funny concept for a film.

Click to enlarge...IN WALKS GRACE!
The name of the female lead is Grace (Aniston). And at the end of it all, grace is the ultimate connection between us and others; Between us and God.
Romans 11:33 -NLT
Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods!
Review and Interview -click here
Reviews, page 2 -click here
Reviews, page 3 -click here
Trailers, Photos -click here
About this Film -click here
About the Cast -click here
About the Filmmakers -click here
Spiritual Connections -click here
Forum -click here

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Bruce Almighty © 2002 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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