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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Jim Carrey’s latest movie, Bruce Almighty, suffers from trying too hard. The first few times Carrey qua God uses his powers, it’s pretty funny. After the two dozenth situation, it gets overdone. “Okay, okay, Mr. Screenwriter, we get it—Jim Carrey is God and he is omnipotent.” I didn’t expect too much from the movie and it wasn’t a disappointment.

There were some absolutely hilarious parts in the movie. The scene where Bruce manipulates his anchor nemesis on camera had me laughing harder than I have since the scene in Greedy where Michael J. Fox whaled on Phil Hartman. I was having trouble breathing and tearing up. It’s been a long time since that’s happened. The other funny scene (that stands out at least) is when Bruce loses it live on TV when he’s informed that Evan got the job he so coveted.

Overall, the movie was a bit hamfisted. Selfishness bad. Bruce selfish. Bruce bad. Bruce discover he bad. Bruce be unselfish. Unselfishness good. Bruce good. The only problem with that equation is that a) it’s completely trite at this stage in America’s philosophical development (it might have been interesting during the Depression…wait, didn’t Frank Capra do his movies in the Depression era? I think Carrey et al might be pilfering Capra. ;-)) and b) it suffers from an utterly conventional view of selfishness, where it’s shaft or be shafted. As Ayn Rand and others have shown, selfishness doesn’t have to be that way. I myself prefer a view of selfishness closer to Aristotle’s eudaimonia where you live your life with your own life as the standard by which you judge actions and choices and is the basis for the definition of virtues and values. Bruce is unselfish by this standard because he consistently pursues a self-destructive path.

On the other hand, the movie did deal somewhat with the issue of free will. In the movie’s conception, God cannot alter or influence humanity’s free will. Bend the laws of physics? No problem. Make someone fall in love with someone else? Whoa, no way! It’s a little hard to swallow and I think, in the end, that it is more of a plot device than a well-thought out opinion.

Overall, it’s good for some laughs. If you’ve caught the hype, see it at a matinee showing. Otherwise, wait for video release.