Directed by: Tom Shadyac
Written by: Steve Koren, Mark O’Keefe, Steve Oedekerk
Starring: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Baker Hall, Steve Carell
As simple and overused as the phrase may be, “with great power comes great responsibility” perfectly sums up the entire concept of Bruce Almighty. Nobody gets the opportunity to have whatever they desire at the snap of their finger, but our protagonist gets the chance to wield a level of power held only by the highest being in the universe.
After struggling to reach the anchor position at a news station, Bruce (Jim Carrey) blames God for never listening to him. Suddenly one day, Bruce runs into God (Morgan Freeman), who offers his powers to Bruce to show him the difficulty of this job. Now with this power, Bruce has the ability to manipulate anything except free will.
In his prime, not many could come close to the comedic prowess of Jim Carrey. He managed to channel his style with characters meant to confuse audiences as well as make them laugh. Mixing his weird facial expressions and very loud exclamations became his calling card, which made watching one of his features its very own experience. As the character of Bruce, he makes such a whiny character worth rooting for because of the energy he brings to the role, which makes it impossible to find any Carrey character to be too annoying. Bruce Almighty presents him with an interesting challenge and he ensures to channel his talent to the benefit of the story.
Along with Jim Carrey, the character of God is portrayed by Morgan Freeman. This still remains one of the best casting decisions of the 2000s because Freeman has become famous not only for his acting but also for his voiceover work. His voice has become so distinguishable that if a nature documentary does not feature his vocal talent in the background, it just does not feel quite right. As God, Freeman combines his natural calming presence, which clashes well with the exuberance of Jim Carrey.
The powers given to Bruce run the gauntlet showing off the potential of what can be accomplished through the power of God, but as expected, in the hands of a human it would be used for personal gain. Instead of helping people, Bruce decides to utilize these new powers to sabotage others so he can get the promotion he feels he deserves through all of his hard work. Several scenes present moments where you see biblical callbacks like when Bruce walks on water among other instances showing he truly has the power of God. These sequences work because of the performance by Carrey, but also because of the obvious track choice underlying it all being “I Got the Power.” Following the montage, we receive the inevitable shoe drop of learning that having this amount of power comes with great responsibility, including hearing the prayers of everyone.
Having to manage this responsibility becomes a nuisance to Bruce even with his attempts to organize them all through a computer, which is pretty funny. However, it does open up a larger discussion about what God chooses to do with the power it has. After getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume of prayer requests Bruce grants them all and chaos ensues because people wish for selfish things to their higher being. It appears everyone getting what they pray for does not necessarily make for a better world. One instance shows everyone wishing to win the lottery did so but because of the massive amount of people making the prayer and having it answered, they all share this pot and end up with meager sums. Getting this meeting with God in the early stages of the film came about when Bruce yells out blaming God for not answering his prayers, but the film posits that it may be for the best. For anyone who believes in a higher being, they believe their prayers could be answered, but also that they are part of this divine plan already set before them. Not every prayer is pure and opening up the idea God picks and chooses what to grant makes for an interesting idea.
Bruce Almighty sells itself on its comedy but it has some depth to it as well. It takes a larger look on divine intervention and the lines even the most powerful being in the universe cannot cross. Montages galore and a valuable lesson at the very end, this film provides many laugh-out-loud moments and another vehicle for Jim Carrey to drive off the side of the road with style.