here's a recent trend with a lot of so-called comedies
that comes out of Hollywood that states that the trailer is usually funnier than
the actual movie. This is because the trailer gets to cram all of the movie's
jokes into a 2-minute span, whereas the actual movie has to space out its
2-minutes worth of jokes into a 90-minute container. Even if the film has only a
couple of really funny gags, two minutes is a relatively short time to fill. And
like "Just Married",
another advertised comedy, the new Jim Carrey movie "Bruce Almighty"
stuffs all of its jokes into its trailer -- and, as Bugs Bunny likes to say,
that's all folks.
But unlike "Just
Married", which relied on two relatively unknown actors to carry the
non-comedic moments, "Bruce Almighty" has Mr. Plasticman himself, Jim
Carrey, at the center. Carrey is Bruce Nolan, a Buffalo reporter who has a beef
with God. After being passed over for his station's anchor position, is
subsequently beat up by street punks, and then crashes his car into a pole,
Bruce has had it with God. Enter Morgan Freeman, who plays God. Just as fed up
with Bruce's complaints, God teaches Bruce a lesson by giving him the position
of God while he goes on vacation.
And here, at the 30-minute mark, is where all the jokes you
see in the trailer appear. There's a 10-minute span where "Bruce
Almighty" is actually a very funny comedy, but alas 10 minutes of jokes
does not a 90-minute movie make. Hence, the rest of the film is doled out to
sugary human drama, a predictable romance angle between Bruce and his
patient-as-a-saint girlfriend Grace (Jennifer Aniston), and mild melodrama as
Bruce's unwieldy abuse of his Godly powers causes the city of Buffalo near total
annihilation. Doesn't sound funny, right?
What does keep "Bruce Almighty" from being a
total failure is Jim Carrey, who has learned drama from "The
Majestic", so the film's final 40-odd minutes, when Bruce repents and
seeks to right his wrongs, works somewhat as a comedy-drama, with more emphasis
on the drama. Besides the God-inspired chuckles, there are some smiles to be
had, mostly in the beginning as Bad Luck Bruce goes about his day, finding more
and more reasons to hate God. His brief duels with "The Daily Show's"
Steven Carell, as a rival reporter, are pretty funny. As God, Morgan Freeman
("Seven") is the perfect person for the job. And oh yes, it doesn't
hurt that the lovely Catherine Bell (TV's "Jag") plays the local hot
"Bruce Almighty" was directed by Tom Shadyac, who
joined forces with Carrey once already on "Liar
Liar", and also did the drama "Dragonfly".
Shadyac is not a flashy director, and if anything his style can be called
"workman-like". One of the writers of "Bruce" is Steve
Oedekerk ("Kung Pow"),
from whom I expected more funny stuff -- or it could be that Oedekerk was simply
brought in to make the script funnier, since story credit belongs to Koren and
O'Keefe, two TV writers. The movie looks like it wants to be a drama, but was
made into a comedy after Carrey's involvement. Or at least that's what it feels
"Bruce Almighty" is a one-trick pony, and once
the trick has been done to death (in this case, about 10 minutes worth), there's
a need for something more to occupy the rest of the audience's attention.
"Bruce" doesn't have enough "something more" to sustain
itself, which may explain why the movie never made me really laugh. Then
again, it never bored me either, so that's a plus.