Directed by Tom Shadyac, starring Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman.
The Holy Bible is divided into two testaments. In the first, God is powerful, elemental and mysterious. In the second he is human, kind and caring. 'Bruce Almighty', the story of a goofy television reporter elevated to the role of God for a week, is similarly divided.
In the first half (The Funny Testament) Jim Carrey capitalises on the gloriously over-the-top screen presence that made 'The Cable Guy' and 'Dumb & Dumber' such classic Hollywood comedies. In the second half (The Drippy Testament) 'Bruce Almighty' degenerates into the worst kind of Hollywood sentimentality, so unctuous and worthy that its hard to remember that the film was ever funny in the first place.
The story of 'Bruce Almighty' is strangely familiar. A selfish hack finds himself the subject of bizarre supernatural events. At first he exploits the situation for personal gain, but soon learns his lesson, and turns his focus towards helping others and winning the love of a good woman.
Yes, 'Groundhog Day' has been remade, with Carrey in the Bill Murray role and Jennifer Aniston standing in for Andie MacDowell. 'Groundhog Day' owed a lot to 'It's A Wonderful Life' and, in a dizzy-making spot of post-modern self-referencing, 'Bruce Almighty' actually includes a scene from the classic Jimmy Stewart movie.
The film's first half sees Bruce Nolan (Carrey) react badly to a serious career setback. Despite the support of his sweet girlfriend Diane (Aniston), he goes off the rails. A chance encounter with the Supreme Being (Freeman), who is looking for a stand-in while he goes on a well-deserved holiday, results in Bruce taking up the mantle of God.
Bruce's vengeful Old Testament-style retribution of those who have previously wronged him is often hilarious. The laughs reach a peak with Bruce viciously deposing his rival news anchorman, but as he finds there are better uses for his power, the film takes a turn for the worse. By the time Morgan Freeman is making a speech about the miracle of single mothers coping and teens staying off drugs, you find yourself reaching for a sick-bag.
With barely one laugh in the final 45 minutes, 'Bruce Almighty' fizzles to an inglorious conclusion, and is yet more proof that no talent is impervious to Hollywood's mawkish tendencies. There's one good line near the end of 'Bruce Almighty', when Carrey announces that, "behind every great man there's a woman rolling her eyes". By that stage I'd done a fair bit of eye-rolling myself.