Bruce Almighty
R2 - United Kingdom - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Mathew Buck (4th October 2004).
The Film

Ah, the good old days of Jim Carrey. Where you could know that he was gonna act like some escaped mental patient and be funny as hell while doing so. Since then, Carrey has opted to do serious, occasionally going back to do his own traditional blend of face-mugging comedy. But then Carrey's desire to be a bit more serious has always meant that the movie would dramatically shift tone. This happened to Liar, Liar and it has happened again in Bruce Almighty.

Bruce Nolan (Carrey) is unhappy with his life. Tired of reporting stories of giant cookies, Bruce really wants that anchorman position. So much so in fact, he's ignoring his girlfriend Grace (Jennifer Aniston). After the anchor position goes to the slimey Evan Baxter (Steve Carell, recently seen stealing Will Ferrell's limelight in Anchorman), Bruce loses his temper big time on live TV and is promptly fired. Bruce blames his bad day on God (Morgan Freeman) not giving him what he wants. After being sent to a mysterious building, Bruce encounters The Man Upstairs himself, who gives him his powers. Bruce decides to use this to his advantage by turning everything that has annoyed him on it's head. In the midst of doing this, he is seperating himself further from Grace...

The first two acts are spot on. Carrey is at his face-pulling best, without becoming so over-powering he becomes annoying, Aniston is... Aniston and Freeman seems to be having fun as God. Bruce's revenge is hilarious, espically the now legendary sequence where Bruce gets even with Evan. Then, as I mentioned above, the need for a plot kicks in. Up until this point, the plot has mainly in the background, loosely linking each sequence together. As soon as the third acts kicks in, the film tries way too hard and way too much. The idea that every decision Bruce makes has a reaction is added way too late, the film goes off into a romantic comedy and the laughs dry up. Looking at the Deleted Scenes (more on those later), ths is basically a skeleton of it's former self, with a much quicker pace, so this flaw could have been so much worse. OK, so it doesn't seem like I'm being all that postitive on this film, but I actually do like it. The first two thirds are great, the last third is not. It is a funny movie, but I only suggest a rental to see if you like it first.

Video

Buena Vista has provided the film in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This is not a bad transfer by all means, in fact it is nearly perfect, if it wasn't for film grain. OK, so it's mainly in the background, but for such a recent film, I find this a tad annoying. There is shot when Bruce first meets God that looks awfully blurry, but I think that is in the source, and is probably a botched slo-mo shot.

Audio

Buena Vista has provided us with 3 audio tracks (excluding the commentary): English and Spanish in Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Audio Descriptive in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. R1 has a DTS track, but I find the Dolby options here good enough for the purpose. I tried the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. For a comedy, this is lively, with some good subwoofer and directional channel usage. I'd say it's good for comedy, but this is no action film. I also briefly sampled the Audio Descriptive track during the more chaotic sequences to see how it held up. Not all that well, I'm afraid. I know it must be hard for you to watch a movie when you are blind, but the track is lacking in fact that can't keep up with the pace. In fact, the narrator read something out so quickly I had to rewind back to see what she said. I think it is great of Buena Vista to do this, but they have to improve on it a bit yet.

Extras

First, we have a start-up trailer for Pirates Of Carribean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. You can skip it using the chapter advance. Secondly, we have an audio commentary with director Tom Shadyac. He is quite chatty and informative, but has a large tendency to thank half the people who worked on the movie. Then we have "The Process Of Jim" featurette. It is a short but interesting look at how Carrey can improvise. Next are some outtakes, mainly containing Jim going crazy and cracking everyone up. Last, there is some Deleted Scenes. A whole 30 minutes were removed, with some decisions more questionable then others. Highlights include the extended cookie report at the start of the movie, the original ending to Bruce's revenge on Evan, the extended scene of where Bruce answers people's prayers and Bruce making a story of a fluff piece on skydiving. Shadyac returns to commentate, but this time, he mostly lets the scenes play to themselves. It doesn't sound like much, but in actual fact this is a pretty comprehensive package which DVD producers should follow: less is more. We don't want 5 minute, clip-filled filler clogging up our disc (like The Bourne Identity: Special Edition)! We want decent quality extras!

Overall

A very well-made comedy let down by an ending neither satisfying nor fitting in with the rest of movie that before it. The film is complemented by an extras package that is a heck of a lot better than it looks on first glance.

The Film: B Video: B+ Audio: B+ Extras: B+ Overall: B+

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.