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"Bruce Almighty"

Directed by Tom Shadyac ("Ace Ventura: Pet Detective").
Written by Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe and Steve Oedekirk.
Starring Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  5/27/03


Jim Carrey took a little time off, but the result is a below-average film that really didn’t seem to be sure about what it wanted to be.

I say that because “Bruce Almighty”, which opened over the weekend, is very funny in three or four scenes--I mean, riotously funny--and many times tries to be too dramatic for the people assembled in this picture.  Strange, isn’t it?  A film whose best trailer jokes have Jennifer Aniston wondering if her boobs are bigger, and the family dog taking a dump while reading the newspaper in the bathroom...trying to be a drama, too?  Directed by the man who brought us “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”, “The Nutty Professor” and “Liar Liar”??

Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a Buffalo, New York TV reporter who is frustrated with his lack of status, his salary, his seemingly-dead end path.  He does, though, have a great girlfriend (Aniston) and an upcoming opportunity for promotion at the station he currently calls his employer.  Things don’t go his way at the job, and when another reporter wins the open anchor spot at the station, he chastises God for never getting any breaks...and, to his surprise, God (Morgan Freeman) shows up in Buffalo in human form and gives Bruce the chance to play God for a week to see just how tough it is to give everyone what they want.

If only “Bruce Almighty” had stuck to its guns and made a film where Carrey gets to play Bruce as a seven-day fantasy where all he would do is what he does for the first 15 minutes of post-almighty-power endowment.  He walks on water, he gets revenge on a gang boss that had beaten him up earlier in the film.  He gets rid of his crappy old sports car for a Ferrari, and he shows his girlfriend quite a romantic time one night back at their apartment.  I could have done a whole movie full of that...but, as the film goes on, it stumbles repeatedly in trying to go with a “boy meets girl—boy loses girl—boy gets girl back” plotline with the two leads, and it features the All Time Stupidest Whoops Moment in romantic films, when Bruce is kissed by a hot anchorwoman (Catherine Bell, from “JAG”) AT THE EXACT MOMENT THAT HIS CURRENT GIRLFRIEND WALKS INTO THE DOORWAY.  I literally almost got up and left the theater when this scene went down; can’t writers come up with something more creative?  So, of course, the girlfriend walks off in tears, with Bruce following after her with predictable “Honey, that didn’t mean anything!” and “Blah blah blah” and “This movie is horseshit” type lines.

And on and on.  The movie does have brief moments of solid comedy, and one of the funniest scenes so far this year that I have witnessed, a sequence where Bruce messes with his rival at the station, Evan (Steven Carell, apparently of “The Daily Show” although I don’t watch it), to hilarious results as Evan struggles with the English language during a broadcast.  Carrey is generally likable even if the script is not, and as mentioned, Catherine Bell gets enough exposure for you to remember her.

But, this is a solid entry into the “Most Disappointing Summer Film of 2003” contest, with “T3” only some 30-odd days away.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09