Bruce Almighty

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Bruce Almighty
A man with the world hanging from his finger like a yoyo
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTom Shadyac
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Steve Koren
  • Mark O'Keefe
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyDean Semler
Edited byScott Hill
Music byJohn Debney
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release dates
  • May 14, 2003 (2003-05-14) (Hollywood)
  • May 23, 2003 (2003-05-23) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes[4]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$81 million[5]
Box office$484.6 million[5]

Bruce Almighty is a 2003 American fantasy comedy film directed by Tom Shadyac and written by Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe and Steve Oedekerk. The film stars Jim Carrey as Bruce Nolan, a down-on-his-luck television reporter who complains to God (played by Morgan Freeman) that he is not doing his job correctly and is offered the chance to try being God himself for one week. The film is Shadyac and Carrey's third collaboration, as they had worked together previously on Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in 1994 and Liar Liar in 1997—the second of three collaborations between Carrey and Baker Hall after The Truman Show in 1998 and the next being Mr. Popper's Penguins in 2011. It co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Philip Baker Hall and Steve Carell.

When released in American theaters on May 23, 2003, Bruce Almighty opened to mixed reviews from critics, but was a box-office success and grossed $86.4 million, making it the top Memorial Day opening weekend of any film in history at the time.[6] The film surprised the industry's pundits when it beat The Matrix Reloaded the following weekend.

Evan Almighty, a spin-off sequel focusing on Steve Carell's character, with Shadyac and Oedekerk returning to direct and write, and Freeman also reprising his role, was released on June 22, 2007.

Plot[edit]

Bruce Nolan is a television field reporter for Eyewitness News on WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York, but desires to be the news anchorman. When Bruce is passed over for promotion by his rival, Evan Baxter, a vulgar on-camera outburst leads to his dismissal from the station. After a series of misfortunes, Bruce complains to God that "He's the one that should be fired".

Bruce receives a message on his pager, which takes him to an empty warehouse where he meets God. God offers to give Bruce his powers to prove that he is doing the job correctly. God tells Bruce that he cannot tell others he has God's powers (in order to avoid the media attention), nor can he use the powers to alter free will. Bruce is initially jubilant with the powers, using them for personal gains, such as getting his job back, exacting revenge on a street gang that bullied him earlier, and impressing his girlfriend, Grace Connelly.

Bruce finds ways of using his powers around Buffalo to cause miraculous events to occur at otherwise mundane events that he covers, such as discovering Jimmy Hoffa's body during a segment on police training, or causing a meteor to harmlessly land near a cook-off, earning him the nickname "Mr. Exclusive". Bruce then causes Evan to embarrass himself on-air, causing Evan to be fired in favor of Bruce as the new anchor. Bruce continues to hear voices in his head and re-encounters God, who explains the voices are prayers that Bruce must deal with. Bruce creates a computerized email-like system to receive the prayers and respond but finds that the influx is far too many for him to handle (despite only receiving prayers from the Buffalo area) and sets the program to answer every prayer Yes automatically.

Bruce attends a party celebrating his promotion. When Grace arrives, she finds Bruce kissing his co-anchor, Susan Ortega, after she forcefully comes on to him, and quickly leaves. Bruce follows her, trying to use his powers to convince her to stay but cannot influence her free will. As Bruce looks around, he realizes that Buffalo has fallen into chaos due to his actions: parts of the city believe the Apocalypse is nearly upon Earth due to the meteor strikes, while a large number of people, all having prayed to win the multi-million dollar lottery and received only seventeen dollars in return, have started rioting in the streets. Bruce returns to God, who explains that he cannot solve all the problems and Bruce must figure out a way himself. Bruce returns to his computer at home and goes about answering prayers earnestly. As he reads through them, he finds a prayer from Grace, wishing for his success and well-being. As Bruce reads it, another prayer from Grace arrives, this one wishing not to be in love with him anymore.

Stunned by this development, Bruce walks alone on a highway, asking God to take back his powers and leaving his fate in God's hands. Bruce is suddenly hit by a truck and regains consciousness in a white void. God appears, and he asks Bruce what he really wants; Bruce admits that he only wants to make sure Grace finds a man that would make her happy. God agrees, and Bruce finds himself in the hospital, where doctors have assisted in his recovery. Grace finally arrives. She and Bruce rekindle their relationship, later becoming engaged. Following his recovery, Bruce returns to his field reporting, but decides to take more pleasure in the simple stories.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The Shoin building at the Japanese Garden in Los Angeles was used as the spa.

Filming of Buffalo was done in the "New York Street" at Universal Studios Hollywood. The restaurant with Tony Bennett was filmed at Cicada, in the James Oviatt Building, downtown Los Angeles.[7] The spa scene with Jennifer Aniston was filmed in the Shoin building at The Japanese Garden in Los Angeles.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Bruce Almighty earned $67.9 million during its opening weekend, which made it the highest for a Jim Carrey film, surpassing How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a record it held until the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in 2022. It also defeated Austin Powers in Goldmember to have the highest three-day opening weekend for a comedy film.[8] In its first four days, it generated a total of $86.4 million, becoming the second-highest Memorial Day weekend debut, behind The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The film opened in the number 1 spot at the box office, beating The Matrix Reloaded.[9] This would only last for a week, as the spot was taken away by Finding Nemo.[10] The film was released in the United Kingdom on June 27, 2003, and topped the country's box office that weekend.[11]

Bruce Almighty joined The Matrix Reloaded, Finding Nemo, X2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl to become the first five films to earn over $200 million at the box office in one summer season.[12] By the end of its theatrical run, the film had made $242 million domestically and a total $484 million worldwide, making it Aniston and Carrey's highest-grossing film worldwide, as well as the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2003.[5]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 48% based on 193 reviews, with an average rating of 5.70/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Carrey is hilarious in the slapstick scenes, but Bruce Almighty gets bogged down in treacle."[13] On Metacritic, it has a score of 46 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[14]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars, calling it: "A charmer, the kind of movie where Bruce learns that while he may not ever make a very good God, the experience may indeed make him a better television newsman." Ebert praised Aniston's performance: "Aniston, as a sweet kindergarten teacher and fiancee, shows again (after "The Good Girl") that she really will have a movie career."[15] Variety's Robert Koehler gave the film a mixed review: "There's remarkably little done with a premise snatched from high-concept heaven, adding yet another file to the growing cabinet of under-realized comedies."[16] The Los Angeles Times gave it a negative review and called it "not so mighty".[17]

Controversies[edit]

The film was banned in Egypt because of its portrayal of God as an ordinary man. Bans in both Malaysia and Egypt were eventually lifted after the nations' censorship boards gave the film their highest rating (18-PL in the case of Malaysia).[18][19]

As God contacts Bruce using an actual phone number rather than one in the standard fictional 555 telephone exchange, several people and groups sharing this number received hundreds of phone calls from people wanting to talk to God, including a church in North Carolina, US (where the minister was named Bruce), a pastor in northern Wisconsin and a man running a sandwich shop in Manchester, England.[20] The producers noted that the number (776-2323) was not in use in the area code (716, which was never specified on screen) in the film's story, but did not check anywhere else. For the home-video and television versions of the film, the number was changed to the fictional 555–0123.[21][20]

Accolades[edit]

Association Category Nominee Results
ASCAP Film and Television Music award Top Box Office Films John Debney Won
ASCAP Film and Television Music award Most Performed Song from a Motion Picture "I'm With You" Graham Edwards
Avril Lavigne
Won
BET Comedy award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Box Office Movie Morgan Freeman Nominated
Black Reel award Film: Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Golden Schmoes award Most Overrated Movie of the Year Nominated
Image award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Morgan Freeman Won
MTV Movie + TV award Best Comedic Performance Jim Carrey Nominated
MTV Movie + TV award Best Kiss Jim Carrey
Jennifer Aniston
Nominated
MTV Movie award, Mexico Most Divine Miracle in a Movie (for the chest of Grace) Jim Carrey Won
Nickelodeon Kid's Choice award Favorite Movie Nominated
Nickelodeon Kid's Choice award Favorite Movie Actor Jim Carrey Won
People's Choice award Favorite Comedy Motion Picture Won
Teen Choice award Choice Movie Actor - Comedy Jim Carrey Won
Teen Choice award Choice Movie Actress - Comedy Jennifer Aniston Nominated
Teen Choice award Choice Movie - Chemistry Jim Carrey
Morgan Freeman
Nominated

Soundtrack[edit]

Bruce Almighty: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
John Debney, Various Artists
ReleasedJune 3, 2003
GenreSoundtrack
LabelVarèse Sarabande
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic [22]

The soundtrack was released on June 3, 2003, by Varèse Sarabande. Tracks 8-13 are from the score composed by John Debney, performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony (conducted by Pete Anthony) with Brad Dechter and Sandy De Crescent.

Track listing
  1. "One of Us" - Joan Osborne
  2. "God Shaped Hole" - Plumb
  3. "You're a God" - Vertical Horizon
  4. "The Power" - Snap!
  5. "A Little Less Conversation" - Elvis vs. JXL
  6. "The Rockafeller Skank" - Fatboy Slim
  7. "God Gave Me Everything" - Mick Jagger featuring Lenny Kravitz
  8. "AB Positive"
  9. "Walking on Water"
  10. "Seventh at Seven"
  11. "Bruce Meets God"
  12. "Bruce's Prayer"
  13. "Grace's Prayer"

Related media[edit]

Sequel[edit]

A sequel and spin-off, titled Evan Almighty, was released on June 22, 2007, with Steve Carell reprising his role as Evan Baxter and Morgan Freeman returning to his role as God. Although Shadyac returned to direct the sequel, neither Carrey nor Aniston was involved with the film, and Carrey's character, Bruce, is never mentioned in the film. The film was a critical and commercial failure.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bruce Almighty at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ "BVI hits milestones with Pirates, Bruce Almighty". ScreenDaily. Archived from the original on January 13, 2018. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  3. ^ "BVI goes over the top o'seas". Variety. 20 October 2003. Archived from the original on January 13, 2018. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  4. ^ "BRUCE ALMIGHTY (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 2003-05-22. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
  5. ^ a b c "Bruce Almighty (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Archived from the original on 2010-04-08. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  6. ^ "Bruce Blesses Memorial Weekend with $85.73 Million". Archived from the original on 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2006-05-31.
  7. ^ "Filming Locations for Bruce Almighty (2003) in Los Angeles".
  8. ^ "'Bruce Almighty' easily wins box office". United Press International. 26 May 2003. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Weekend box office surprises even 'Almighty'". Los Angeles Times. 27 May 2003.
  10. ^ "'Nemo' is #1 at the box office".
  11. ^ "Weekend box office 27th June 2003 - 29th June 2003". www.25thframe.co.uk. Archived from the original on 30 December 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Analysis: Hollywood's hot summer". United Press International. 2 September 2003. Archived from the original on March 1, 2022. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Bruce Almighty". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2020-08-17. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  14. ^ "Bruce Almighty". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2010-08-23. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 5, 2003). "Bruce Almighty movie review & film summary (2003)". Chicago Sun-Times.
  16. ^ Koehler, Robert (23 May 2003). "Bruce Almighty". Variety.
  17. ^ "Not quite divine". Los Angeles Times. 2003-05-23. Retrieved 2021-01-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Middle East Online". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-06-24.
  19. ^ "Malaysian Muslims call for ban on movie, AFP, Fri July 13, 2007". Archived from the original on December 7, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  20. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2015-01-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Man 'shares God's phone number'". 30 June 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-05-14. Retrieved 2007-04-10.
  22. ^ Phares, Heather. "Review: Bruce Almighty: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 August 2009.

External links[edit]