Bruce Almighty

Gen-X-Reviews-Bruce-Almighty-2003Omnipresence is divine boredom.

Can you imagine knowing how every story will end, sensing the punch line of every joke, envisioning every potentiality snaking back into its inevitable collapse? It must be like having your television stuck on Nick at Nite, watching endless reruns of old favorites.

Jim Carrey’s new film Bruce Almighty is sort of like this. A formula film of the lowest order, there isn’t one surprising or novel moment in this dismal comedy. The instant you meet television reporter Bruce Nolan (Carrey) you know that he will have to learn important life lessons before you will be allowed to leave the theatre. He will probably lose his lovely, innocent girlfriend Grace (played insipidly by Jennifer Aniston) and have to sacrifice an unearned success, and in the end he will rediscover the value of ordinary life.

Knowing Carrey, you might foretell correctly that he will at some point touch his fanny naughtily, act as though his bones were made of jelly, and perform other acts of purely predictable physical comedy. You might stutter for a second under the mistaken hope that Aniston’s character will shake things up a little, but in the end everybody serves the tired plot in this sort of assembly-line film. Indeed, one could probably duplicate the entire movie based on nothing more than the trailers.

Being god-like in our foreknowledge, we might look forward to the possibility that the onscreen acting would make up for the plot shortcomings. We have seen what Aniston has done with an ordinary role in last year’s The Good Girl and Carrey can occasionally surprise us with his range of character acting, so even a deity may hope for a little mysterious chemistry in the film, the wonder that unexpectedly occurs between actors on occasion.

But of course it isn’t possible for a god to be disappointed, only bored, and he’d know long before their opening scene together that Carrey and Aniston were not interested in giving their best for Bruce Almighty. He would see into their hearts and uncover their motives for creating cinematic SPAM of this sort – money – and resist the temptation to be drawn into the film waiting for the actors to live up to their potential.

A god would see the movie’s transparencies even before we do. He would know that Nolan is a big baby egoist upset that he was stuck in the features department of a local Buffalo television station. He would see the inevitable conflicts caused by Nolan’s dissatisfaction with doing home-town stories; would predict the fateful day the character curses the lord after a particularly bad episode at work; and would see Morgan Freeman, doing the worst impression of god ever, challenge Bruce to take over and see if he could do a better job.

God must have infinite patience for these sorts of things, being that he is in the unique position of seeing them from all spaces and times.

So he might sit in the dark theatre and sigh as Carrey turns his face into silly putty or try to catch up on some sleep when Grace is mistaken into thinking Bruce is proposing when he’s really just talking about himself. He might frown at the Three’s Company-style misunderstanding that leads to the predestined couple’s break-up or yawn at their trite reconciliation.

I wonder what god would think of Morgan Freeman’s uninspiring portrayal? What would he think of the speech where Freeman says that the real heroes are the ordinary folks paying their taxes, good, law-abiding members of society? I expect this might strike the lord as a touch simplistic and over-general, but maybe god is a republican after all.

God might see the irony in an unoriginal movie about a character lacking the imagination to use divine powers in interesting ways. After all, if we’re suppose to see Nolan as wasting his power, what does this say about filmmakers who can’t develop more interesting characters or plot development? Aren’t they as uncreative and dull as the reality they create to poke fun at?

The lord might shake his head in good nature at the dishonest effort that was put into the film, but I don’t think he would judge it as a moral transgression. Stupid, yes, and sometimes mildly offensive, but not evil. I’m sure he’s had to sit through even worse films in the past, present or future. Since he exists in all dimensions of the eternal, he might not conceive of Bruce Almighty as a waste of time, but I do.

If it’s anything like seeing Bruce Almighty, I think being god would be a real drag.


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