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2003-06-11 tracking life & times section
'Bruce Almighty' a nice feel-good film for Carrey
Cletus Turner
Jim Carrey is, arguably, the most popular comedian of his generation.

In the late 90s, he reigned supreme. With movies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Liar, Liar, Carrey has cemented himself into the spot of the "can't miss" category. As long as he sticks to comedy, that is. With gaffes like The Majestic and Man on the Moon, Carrey needed to come out of the gates running with his new movie Bruce Almighty. For this film, Carrey teamed with the man who directed him in Liar, so he knew what to expect.

The title character is Bruce and played, naturally, by Carrey. He is a news reporter, not what he feels is serious news, but community based news. One news item Bruce covers is the creation of the city's largest cookie by a local bakery.

Bruce is constantly whining about how he wants to be the anchor for the news show. In many ways, he is always complaining about what he doesn't have, and doesn't appreciate what he DOES have. When he is passed over for the anchor job by the man he absolutely hates, he goes postal on air. He is promptly fired. Add to that his car is damaged and he is beaten up trying to help a someone, and Bruce is angry. At everything and everyone, but Bruce is especially angry at God. He gives God a thumbs down rating for his job effectiveness.

Enter the big G. Morgan Freeman plays Him and decides to give Bruce an idea of what it is like to be God for a week. The rules are simple, Bruce is confined to the Buffalo area, he can't tell anyone he is God, and he can't mess with anyone's free will.

Morgan Freeman has to be the consummate actor. He takes on one of the biggest and hardest roles and gives God a playfulness and a wonderful sense of humor. While some might attribute this to writing, the actor has the job of taking words and making them real. Freeman does this with relish and a deft touch.

At first, Bruce's new power is a great toy. How many of us haven't dreamed of what we would do with such power? Some of us would have done the same things Bruce did. He used the power to clear a path in traffic for his new sports car and get his dog to use the toilet. Bruce uses the power to bring the moon closer to earth for a romantic evening with his girlfriend Grace, played by Jennifer Aniston. He makes her breasts grow, for his benefit, naturally.

Perhaps the most surprising twist is when Bruce uses his power to find the body of Jimmy Hoffa. Knowing that he can get his job back by using the power, Bruce is able to find Hoffa who disappeared over 25 years ago, and now Bruce has found the body and has the dental records and birth certificate to prove it. This leads him to get the title of "Mr. Exclusive."

However, all things have consequences. When Bruce brought the moon closer to earth, he caused a tidal wave in Japan. When he hears all the voices raised in prayer, he sets his computer to automatically say yes to all the requests. Riots in the streets of Buffalo ensue. In the lottery, 11,000 winners get $17 each from the jackpot.

In the end, Bruce realizes that the use of the power is to help others. He finally begins to use the power the right way and is redeemed. Through it all, Carrey is able to make us believe that he is doing what he would normally do. We believe he would use the power to get what he wants. When he wants Grace to love him, and he can't force her because of the free will clause, he finally sees what God wants him to. You can't make people do what they don't want to do. "Welcome to my world," God says.

Although it might seem like the movie will come off heavy-handed, it actually doesn't. Carrey, Aniston and Freeman make the film light, funny and completely likeable. Carrey is an everyman, with a little quirkish humor on the side. Aniston is the loving, and suffering, girlfriend who makes Bruce see what he really has going for him. Freeman makes us like God even more.

In many ways, this film is what all of us would see, we hope, if we were in Bruce's shoes. I, personally, would like to think that I would help other people and make a difference. I'm sure others would too.

Overall, Bruce is a nice, feel-good film that makes us recognize in all of us the potential to be real human beings. A nice concept for this day and age.

4 suns

2 Fast 2 Furious was 2 good for the competition. It was able to take the number one spot in its debut weekend. The film generated $52.1 million in its opening frame. The original took in $40.1 million in its debut. Number two was last week's number one Finding Nemo. The Disney/Pixar film garnered $45.8 million in ticket sales. The toon has already grossed $143.3 million in ten days and looks to hit the $200 million barrier. Some are predicting it to gross more than Monsters, Inc. which is the second biggest toon of all time behind The Lion King. Number three is Bruce Almighty. The Jim Carrey film grossed $21.7 million in its third weekend and has grossed $170.8 million overall. Number four is The Italian Job. Despite formidable competition, Job raked in $13.3 million and has grossed $40.1 million in ten days. Number five is The Matrix Reloaded. This year's biggest blockbuster so far garnered $9.1 million and has grossed $247.7 million in 25 days.

Not bad for a sequel.

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