Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Bruce Almighty
USA 2003 : Tom SHADYAC : 101 mins
Desperation now blazes from Jim Carreys eyes: The Truman Show was supposed to be his transition to proper acting, only for Joe Public to shun Man on the Moon and The Majestic in favour of the full-tilt JIM CARREY persona showcased in The Grinch and this latest box-office smash. Carrey knows that his dreams of respect and Oscar nominations are more remote than ever his future consists of having to lower and debase myself for the amusement of total strangers, as his Bruce Almighty character angrily puts it.
Because, in a rather salt-in-the-wound bit of casting, Carrey plays a small-time TV news reporter frustrated at being confined to zany material he’s achingly desperate to shed his wacky Bruce persona and become a sober, Cronkite-style anchorman. His ambitions cruelly thwarted, Bruce rants and rails at Gods injustice so much that He (Morgan Freeman, typecast) turns up and announces that Hes taking a holiday – leaving Bruce in charge.
As high-concept movies go, this is extremely high celestially so, in fact. But hack-director Shadyac responsible for grating wacky Jim fare like Liar Liar and his three scriptwiters prove much more fallibly flawed than their omnipotent hero, resulting in a not-so-divine comedy. After a dismayingly clunky set-up, there’s a fun half-hour in the middle as the gleefully obnoxious Bruce tests out his new powers including one great gag about the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa, of all things. But too often there’s a sense of missed opportunity, as if the film-makers were terrified of Americas vocal Christian bloc. Theres nothing to offend anyone here apart, that is, those of us allergic to the sentimental life-lesson glop that constitutes the movies redemption-of-asshole final act.
15th June, 2003
(seen 5th June: Showcase, Dudley)
by Neil Young