Bruce Almighty

By Adam Lippe

brucealmightypicIt’s a good thing there’s no God, because if this is his way of speaking to us, the one thing you might cull from this 100 minutes, he’s a really lousy screenwriter.

There are so many things wrong with this movie, that it’s easier to remember the good things, Steve Carrell from The Daily Show as an obnoxious news anchor, Catherine Bell’s breasts (the wonderbra she’s wearing should get a best supporting award), and a brief special effect where Bruce parts the red sea of tomato soup. Unfortunately, from there, they cut to a terrible low angle composite shot of the soup and Carrey, right out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It’s fine when it’s Gene Wilder and it’s a wonderful looking silly musical, but not when it’s a poorly shot $80 million movie (and the effects are generally very poor throughout the movie).

Right off the bat, I hated Carrey’s character, a smarmy newsman stuck doing cutesy stories and condescending to everyone around him with cornball jokes that he believes he’s above, but sure seems to take pleasure in. Then we’re supposed to feel bad for him when he has a shitty day and curses God for ruining his life because he didn’t get the promotion he wanted. And yet he still gets to go his nice home to Jennifer Aniston, who is given the one dimension of being loyal to play. That sounds fairly self-centered and deluded to me and I would hope that God wouldn’t bother to listen to his whining.

The movie is near insufferable and has an ending that goes on for about 35 minutes, or at least it feels that way. Since the script obviously wrote itself, let’s see what happens if we make Jim Carrey God and let him loose. Except they don’t let him loose. They give him obvious gags and he has nothing to play off of, and the movie is beyond tame. All of the vulgarity is insanely telegraphed and reeled in. There is also a deep contradiction in the rules he is given. As Morgan Freeman, playing God, tells him, he can’t affect free will. Yet 90% of the things he does as comeuppance seems to be at odds with those rules. If these people had the free will not to want to do some of these things, how can he force them? The rule only comes into play when it’s convenient for the writers to try to give Bruce a crisis, and a wildly contrived and unimaginative one at that.

Jim Carrey already made this movie 9 years ago. It was called The Mask and it followed the exact same pattern. Man is pushover and people walk all over him. He is given superpowers. Showing off special effects become primary goal of filmmakers. He gets revenge against everyone in obnoxious ways. He gets power hungry. He learns lesson about not abusing power. Girl forgives and/or falls in love with him. The sleep inducing End.

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By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]

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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.