For awhile, Jim Carrey looked to be taking the career path that Michael Keaton had previously established. Start off with strong, hilarious comedic performances, attempt to get into dramatic roles with some critical success, and fade into the sunset, with the occasional bad script choice. While Carrey hasn’t dipped into the Jack Frost period yet, with The Truman Show and Man on the Moon, Carrey had established the fact that he could pull off carrying a dramatic movie, and do it…fairly well, with consecutive Golden Globe awards to boot. Then, after playing a cop with multiple personalities (Me, Myself and Irene) and the Grinch and The Majestic came along, and it was hammered; no one went to see it. Enter Tom Shadyac, Carrey’s old reliable, and collaborator on Liar Liar and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. With Bruce Almighty, Carrey goes back to the goofball comedy well that helped to propel him to the $20 million paychecks you hear about now.
Bruce (Carrey) is a reporter at a Buffalo news station, competing with Evan Baxter (Steven Carell, The Office) for the vacancy of a soon-to-be retiring news anchor. Bruce is a nice enough guy, but he doesn’t get the breaks in life, and he vents to Grace Connelly (Friends’ Jennifer Aniston) about it. Grace gives him a set of prayer beads that one of the kids made at the day care center she works at, to maybe give him an added boost in faith. Soon though, he also complains to God as well, since things aren’t going his way. He does get a break doing some heavier news, but also finds out on live TV about losing the anchor position. Bruce explodes with hilarity on live TV about the slight, and is appropriately fired. As he tries to get out of his rut, he gets a call to meet downtown, and turn his life around. There, he finds a janitor, who we later find out is the man himself, God (there aren’t many better choices than Morgan Freeman). God basically says, “If you’re so good, why don’t you try it?” and he gives his powers to Bruce. So Bruce does all the stuff anyone would do in his position, get a better car, get his job back (and take the promotion he wanted), make his girlfriend’s chest bigger, that kinda thing.
While he takes care of numero uno, he forgets about everyone else, and those hopes and prayers get cast aside. However, once Bruce answers them with a simple “yes”, riots start to spring up. In the midst of this, Grace starts to become disappointed with him, and leaves him. She does come back to give him a second chance, only to find him kissing the female anchor (JAG’s Catherine Bell, one of a few recognizable names in underused roles). So Bruce hits bottom and God comes in, and helps to save him. He gets his real job back, and gets the girl, and all is right in Buffalo again. I would have put a spoiler alert disclaimer in earlier, but even if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s not like the story is really anything new.
Two things came to mind after I saw this film: one, I was surprised at just how big a rehab project this was for Carrey. You’d think that with Bell, Carell, Philip Baker Hall and Nora Dunn in this film that some quality acting and storytelling would come from it, but they’re almost absent in the film, which was a disappointment. The second thing is that when Carrey’s character is conflicted, there’s a lot more emotion from Carrey here as opposed to other films, and that’s the dramatic side of him coming through. He can certainly pull it off, and if he could find the right mix, in terms of story and supporting cast, he could still pull the ole’ Tom Hanks and have a decent dramatic life. But sometimes you need to stretch your goofball comedy legs, and this was one of those times.
Bruce Almighty features a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. Because of the whole “afterlife” feel of the movie, the film comes across looking a substantially whiter than other films, and that look translates well here.
And you know Jim Carrey is a worldwide star, when this little movie has Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in English, French and Spanish, not to mention a DTS track. There’s a lot of music and ambient noise to utilize the DTS track here, and both the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks sound excellent.
When you first put the disc in, you’ll see the mandatory upcoming Universal trailers, so get to the menu button quickly. We start off with the extras and a commentary by Shadyac. Speaking as “one of the 12 people that are going to watch this,” I can tell you he doesn’t really shed any new light on things. Judging from his tone though, it sounds like everyone had a good time in making this movie, and was glad to see it do well. He talks about working with Jim and identifying any improvs that he did, and tells us that the sets were really on backlots, and not in Buffalo! I respond to that statement with one word: duh. It’s not worth your time, you can skip it. Following that, there is a 6 minute look at The Process of Jim, that basically doubles as commentary from Shadyac and a look at some alternate takes from Carrey in 3 scenes. Most of his takes aren’t worth the time, but given a lot of props to work with, he’s a regular Carrot Top. Aside from the outtakes at the end credits, there’s a separate 7 minute blooper reel here featuring a lot of funny flub and mistakes. Following this, there is a half hour of deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary by Shadyac. There are some scenes with Baker Hall that are fairly funny, and a dark twist on Carell’s possession that are noticeable, but the other stuff was edited out with justifiable cause. Following this is a Chase MasterCard commercial (?), along with cast and crew biographies, and the trailer completes things, along with the requisite Universal weblinks.
Well, you get a bland commentary and somewhat scarce features, so picking it up now when it’s cheap is a smart move. Fans of Carrey should pick this up, as Jim returns to the familiar ground of slapstick, and comedy fans should enjoy this whether you like him or not.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- The Insight of Jim Carrey