Film reviews

Bruce Almighty, Dir: Tom Shadyac - Cert: 12A

I wasn’t sure about this film, given my lack of enthusiasm for the two main “stars”, Jim Carrey & Jennifer Aniston. Carrey is someone I consider to be a “Marmite” actor, in that you either love him or hate him and there being very little in between. Aniston is all too familiar as Rachel, from Friends, and as a result it is sometimes difficult to differentiate the two. But what the heck – nothing ventured and all that.

The story is centred around Bruce Nolan (Carrey) a news reporter in Buffalo, New York, who does those humorous little local interest pieces (you know the ones, they come at the end of the nightly bulletin and are proceeded by the phrase “And finally….”), and the effects his attempts to secure a promotion have on those around him, including his long time girlfriend (Aniston).

Initially things didn’t look promising as in the opening couple of scenes Carrey did his usual rubber faced expressions to camera, pretty much being himself rather than Bruce Nolan. However they improved with Aniston’s declaration “I have a rare blood group” raising the possibility of serious accidents & fatalities – I did tell you I wasn’t enthusiastic about these two! My hopes were dashed in this respect but I was pleased to see the movie develop and Carrey’s face was given a non-lead role whilst he did some real acting, not much but enough to suffice, and the story line and supporting characters were introduced and developed.

As the story progresses, Nolan gets more and more annoyed at the way his career is going and starts to rail against the injustices visited upon him by god, who he deems to have a personal vendetta against him and him alone. This all comes to a head and leads to a mysterious phone call resulting in Nolan meeting with his self proclaimed nemesis, in the form of God, a NY Yankees fan played by Morgan Freeman. A deal is struck, whereby the Almighty bestows his powers on Nolan, with a couple of proviso’s, before heading off for some well earned R‘n’R – cue return of rubber face, self gratification and some humorous moments with side swipes at some other major movies as journalist becomes omnipotent being.

Up to this point Ms. Aniston’s supporting character has just been a pastiche of Rachel from friends, giggle/simper/whine repeat (if you love Friends then you’ll love her performance here too). However she also manages to give some believable moments of gravitas to the film, as she becomes more and more put upon and exasperated by Nolan’s behaviour.
The return of God to the story at regular intervals prevents the story bogging down & becoming another “Jim Carrey does facial expressions” movie, keeping the story whilst not rolling along, at least ambling happily in the intended direction, towards the inevitable conclusion whereby Nolan “Sees the light”.

Some scenes are a little too long and as such lose their humour, whilst others ladle on the saccharine schmaltz by the hundredweight (metric tonne for those of you who are in the target audience age range). That said it never gets too righteous or preachy, close on occasion, but never to the point of nausea.

Best bits of the movie are undoubtedly, in this reviewer’s opinion, those involving Morgan Freeman. It’s almost as though Jim Carrey realises that to appear in the same scene he’ll have to act – and as such proved that beneath the rubber face and gesticulating torso there is indeed an actor of some talent. A cameo by Tony Bennett, a homeless sign carrier and a decent soundtrack also lend to this being a pleasant enough way to pass time in a cinema.

A final thought for Ms Aniston on this performance - stick to the day job love and leave “features” to your husband! I don’t believe I have seen any of her other films however in this one, despite a couple of redeeming moments, she trots through the 30 minute cycle of “Rachel in an episode of Friends” more than once, and frankly a weekly 30 minute episode of friends is the best location for it.
Overall rating 7/10


K Soze


Odeon Online

 

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