Bruce Almighty or Bruce just kind of Alrighty? - the Just Films & That team revisit the movie and discuss

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The Just Films & That podcast is dedicated to celebrating underrated and underseen films.

Forced. Undercooked. Trite & embarrassing. An under-realised comedy.

These are just some of the things that film critics have said about Bruce Almighty (2003). And though we would agree that this film isn’t perfect, there is still an Almighty lot to like about it.

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Welcome to the Just Films & That Podcast. We are a film podcast dedicated to celebrating underrated and underseen films.

Basically, we like to look at the films that people have dismissed and thrown to the wayside, and shine a heavenly light of optimism on them.

For this episode, we’re talking about comedy fantasy Bruce Almighty. And be warned, this review contains some spoilers.

The film

Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is an ungrateful, dissatisfied local news journalist.

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Despite having a beautiful, caring girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston), a nice home and a job that, quite frankly, a lot of people would be proud to say they have, he thinks God is out to get him with a string of bad luck.

This "bad luck" is pretty small fry compared to the very real struggles that some people face, but Bruce is lacking a mature and positive perspective on life.

He curses God, who then shows himself in the form of Morgan Freeman. God then bestows his powers onto Bruce to see how he would fix the world if given omnipotence.

HOLLYWOOD - MAY 14:  Actor Jim Carrey attends the premiere of "Bruce Almighty" at Universal Studios on May 14, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)HOLLYWOOD - MAY 14:  Actor Jim Carrey attends the premiere of "Bruce Almighty" at Universal Studios on May 14, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - MAY 14: Actor Jim Carrey attends the premiere of "Bruce Almighty" at Universal Studios on May 14, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

The reception

On IMDB at the time of writing, the film has a score of 6.7 out of 10.

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On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience give it a less than satisfied 57% out of 100%, while the critics give it 48%.

This may not be Carrey's best work, but 48%? Really?

Why it isn't all that bad (according to Alice)

The concept, themes and ideas explored in Bruce Almighty are where the strengths of this film are for me. Bruce's life really isn't that bad.

Sure, he may not be exactly where he wants to be in his career. I can understand that may be frustrating.

But he lets the misery of it completely consume him, to the point where he hurts the person who loves him most, his girlfriend Grace.

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He has a heck of a journey to go on to learn gratitude and develop a more positive perspective, and I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that journey.

One thing I hadn't quite realised about Bruce when I watched this film as a child was just how self-centred and mean he can be.

I got about half way through the most recent viewing thinking he couldn't be redeemed, and wondering why on earth I should feel connected to this protagonist who is so unlikeable.

But the final sequence where he dies briefly and wishes for nothing more than for Grace to be happy is pretty heartwarming, and I would be lying if I said I didn't shed a few tears.

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Casting Morgan Freeman as God was a touch of genius, and is one of my favourite castings of all time. He brings with him some subtle moments of humor that compliment

Jim Carrey's typical slapstick. The two of them work so well together, and end up having quite a tender chemistry.

Giving your human character the abilities of a deity blasts open the doors for creativity.

There are some simple tricks, like Bruce parting his soup like the Red Sea. To more visually spectacular moments, like Bruce pulling the moon closer to Earth.

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The film is very cheesy. The main criticism I kept seeing repeated was that it was too sweet, like swimming in a bath of treacle.

And yes, it's very cheesy, cutesy and perhaps lacks any nuance.

But it's a lot of fun. And if you're like me and don't mind a dollop of treacle on top of your cheese, then you're in for a treat.

Here's what Josh had to say

In my mind Bruce Almighty is a pretty universally loved film that was a box office hit. So I never really thought I’d pick it for the podcast.

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However, I found myself watching it on TV one night and checking its scores only to find them to be shockingly quite low.

Perhaps, a bit like my dad and Top Gun, this is one of those films that caught me at the right time in my life and I’ve carried that into adulthood.

That being said I still don’t get why it only gets 48% from the critics on rotten tomatoes.

My nostalgic affection to one side and I think this is a pretty decent comedy with something in there for everyone (from maybe aged 10 and up).

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You’ve got a pretty solid concept (Unfulfilled lead gets given awesome powers to change fortune), Jim Carrey doing his thing and carrying a lot of the film with his comedic chops, Jennifer Aniston as the emotional heart of the film and Morgan Freeman in a role that silky smooth voice was born for.

What more could you want?

Yes, at points it’s formulaic, predictable and a little saccharine but, y’know what? Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that.

If anything, just watch it for the Jim Carrey/Steve Carrell gibberish scene. Gets me every time.

But that's just what we think. How do you feel about Bruce Almighty? You can get in touch with the podcast on social media. Let us know your thoughts on the films we have covered, and even suggest a few underrated ones of your own. You can find us on all the usual platforms by searching Just Films & That.

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