Blu-ray
For Fans Only
2.5 stars
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Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
2.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
1.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0.5 Stars
Bottom Line
For Fans Only

Bruce Almighty

Street Date:
June 2nd, 2009
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
December 9th, 2009
Movie Release Year:
2003
Studio:
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Length:
101 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Truth be told, I've never been much a Jim Carrey fan. His particular brand of physical comedy, mixed with wild, unexpected, and hyperactive contortions, works best in short, quick intervals, as when he was on "In Living Color". When he does it for long stretches of time, his schtick feels like a bloated, over-inflated extravaganza of silly faces and ridiculous pratfalls. Rather than feeling entertained, I feel exhausted and worn down by an actor who literally overacts. Still, he's a megastar within the genre, and he's proven with a few scattered titles that there's more to him than just his wacky visage.

When Carrey pulls himself together and gives a true, honest performance, he does exceptionally well, as he's proven with 'The Truman Show,' 'Man on the Moon,' and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.' When he goes overboard, he really goes overboard. There's no need to name those films, as I'm sure they're fairly obvious. With 2003's 'Bruce Almighty', it seemed the cartoon-actor tried to mesh the two sides of his personality ever so slightly. As it turns out, Carrey's over-embellished acting wasn't the real issue, as much of the script was simply over-simplified nonsense.

Jim Carrey is Bruce Nolan, a local television field reporter in Buffalo, New York. His dreams of moving from light-interest news stories to the station anchorman are embarrassingly shattered when his rival Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) is given the position instead. His girlfriend Grace (Jennifer Aniston) tries to comfort him, but Bruce eventually ends up taking his anger out on God. The following day, he receives a surprise visit from the almighty himself (Morgan Freeman), who offers Bruce some time to play God for a while. Soon, he discovers being the creator of all things is not as easy as it looks.

Despite drawing in an audience to the tune of over $240 million at the box office, Carrey's shtick of reacting loudly and looking like a clown was really wearing thin by that point. Fortunately, director Tom Shadyac is the true savior, giving the movie some enjoyable aspects and funny, if simple moments. Watching Bruce learn there are consequences to the things he does and ignores makes 'Bruce Almighty' a bit more charming. The scene in which Bruce leans over a golden ox is a really nice touch, as is the dog learning to use the toilet.

Admittedly, there are a few times where Carrey musters a laugh, but the majority of those come from sharing screen time with Steve Carell. His one moment of glory is not only a hilarious highlight of the film, but it's arguably the most memorable. While Morgan Freeman's presence seems to ground the movie and make it more tolerable, Jennifer Aniston mostly stands around and reacts to the crazy things happening around her. Ultimately, Carrey's animated style seems to overshadow the performance of everyone around him, and they simply become props to his feverish antics.

In the end, 'Bruce' is another simple, throwaway comedy in which Jim Carrey does very little to surprise or impress. The movie is weighed down by the typical physical humor expected of most all Carrey flicks and an uplifting moral that can be a bit heavy-handed. In spite of a few occasional laughs, 'Bruce Almighty' falls flat more often than not and failed to win me over.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Bruce Almighty' made its first celestial appearance on the high-def format back in 2007. In that early period of the format wars, the picture quality was passable, but two years later and after countless hours of superior HD viewing, this 1080p/VC-1 encode (1.85:1) simply doesn't amount to much.

While still an upgrade from its DVD counterpart, the picture lacks a great deal of sharpness, and some scenes are poorly resolved. Skin tones appear healthy and natural, but they don't show any real fine texture in the complexions, even in close-ups. Objects in the foreground are often more blurry than resolute, and architectural details are indistinct. Sure, clarity is fairly nice, and there are several instances of colors popping, but they're quickly countered by scenes where they fall flat. Contrast is also average, yet whites veer between crisp and overblown. Meanwhile, brightness levels can't seem to find an even balance, with a few exterior sequences displaying some ugly black crush. Delineation is about the transfer's only strong suit, but it's nothing to rave about. Despite showing a good depth of field and clean of any major artifacts, 'Bruce Almighty' is pretty tame and paltry on Blu-ray.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Although Bruce will likely fail to win any new converts, his voice will make his presence known. It's nothing extraordinary, mind you. It's just better than would be expected for a movie of this genre.

As with the video, this DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is pale in comparison to much newer releases. Still, the lossless mix is quite active for a comedy, delivering stable and precise dialogue reproduction and a pleasant, engaging presence in the front soundstage. Low-frequency bass is also much stronger than initially expected, adding some great moments of oomph and palpability when called upon. Despite feeling a bit front-heavy, John Debney's musical score enhances the soundfield on several occasions, and ambient effects are used often for a few moments of immersion. They may not be very convincing or even consistent, but they do generate some noticeable atmosphere. Overall, 'Bruce Almighty' puts together a nice show in the audio department.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

For this Blu-ray edition of 'Bruce Almighty', Universal has decided to simply port over the same bonus material found on the HD DVD. The only thing missing is the theatrical trailer, not that it matters much since it's a mediocre package anyhow.

  • Audio Commentary - Director Tom Shadyac provides the voice on this somewhat dull commentary track. Despite offering some technical insights, his comments vary from scene to scene, and they seem to have this strange effect of producing yawns. The only real points of interest are when he mentions working with Jim Carrey, but even those comments are of little concern when we move to the next featurette.
  • "The Process of Jim" (SD, 6 min) - I'm not really sure what to make of this as it's not a making-of featurette or an EPK per se. What it boils down to is a series of outtakes for three different sequences of the film. Jim Carrey does take after take to find just the right pitch of comedy. The following segment shows more of Carrey "technique" and without Shadyac's commentary.
  • Outtakes (SD, 7 min) - This piece is pretty much a follow-up to the one above and shows Carrey unable to calm down long enough to actually make a movie. In the end, it's not all that funny or entertaining.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 30 min) - This segment comes with optional director's commentary, and much like the previous supplements, there's really nothing worthwhile about them.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Depending on who you ask, the fact that Universal threw in a couple of exclusives is at least worth something. But if you ask me, I wonder more about how these features can push a theatrical trailer out of the package.

  • BD-Live - The link takes users to Universal's online portal, where various trailers may be viewed. At press time, however, no exclusive content relating to the film had been posted.
  • My Scenes - Another standard in many of Universal's Blu-ray releases, this interactive feature is a function that allows viewers to bookmark their favorite scenes.

Final Thoughts

Bringing his unique blend of contortionist humor, Jim Carrey satisfies his ego by playing God in 'Bruce Almighty'. It has its moments, but this film is ultimately unsatisfying. The Blu-ray disc arrives with a sub-par picture, an audio presentation that's better, and a mediocre package of supplements. Fans probably won't find much to complain about, but everyone else will want to stick to a rental.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD-25 Single-Layer Disc
  • BD-Live (Profile 2.0)
  • Region Free

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish DTS 5.1 Surround
  • French DTS 5.1 Surround

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • French Subtitles

Supplements

  • Audio Commentary
  • Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes

Exclusive HD Content

  • BD-Live
  • Interactive Bookmarking Function

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

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List Price
$9.49
Amazon
$7.88 (17%)
3rd Party
$7.87
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»