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.
'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.
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.
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.
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.