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HD DVD Reviews

HTF HD-DVD Review: Bruce Almighty

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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

Neil Middlemiss


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  • Real Name:Neil Middlemiss

Posted August 26 2007 - 10:27 AM


Bruce Almighty

Studio: Universal Studios.
Year: 2003
US Rating: PG-13 - Language, Sexual Content And Some Crude Humor
Film Length: 1hr 42 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/VC-1
Audio: English and French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English SDH and French

US Release Date: June 12, 2007

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“Bingo! Yahtzee! Is that your final answer? Our survey says... God! Bing bing bing bing bing! Well God, nice job on the Grand Canyon, and good luck with the Apocalypse. Oh, and by the way: you SUCK!”

As far as comedies go, Bruce Almighty is a mighty good one. Tom Shadyac, the man responsible for directing Jim Carrey in some of his most beloved and popular comedy roles (Ace Ventura, Liar, Liar), creates another warm and fuzzy comedy with a soft gooey center in Bruce Almighty. This is a comedy with equal amounts of ‘laugh out loud’ and ‘tugs at the heart-string’ moments that leaves you feeling good when the credits roll and the outtakes come to a close.

Jim Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a reporter with a local Buffalo, NY TV station, who is unhappy with his career out ‘in-the-field’ when he would rather be behind the newsroom desk as Anchorman. Nolan is self-centered and unappreciative of what he has. After a hearing that his newsroom rival, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), has been given the anchorman job over him, he has a meltdown during a live TV broadcast that gets him fired and ends up blaming everything on a God that he feels is out to make life as difficult as possible for him. After cursing the heavens and God himself, God, in the form of a delightful Morgan Freeman, decides to give all his powers to Bruce to do with them what he will. And with that, the comedy hook is set up, set in motion and off providing laugh after laugh as Carrey, imbued with all of Gods powers (except the ability to influence free-will) travels down a selfish road before slowly learning some important lessons.

Jim Carrey is a livewire in this movie, his last truly great all-out comedy. As the self-centered Bruce Nolan, his smart wit and nice-guy persona are instantly likeable even if he is acting is egotistical and ignorant of what he has with the woman who loves him, the beautiful Grace Connelly, played by Jennifer Aniston. The relationship with his longtime girlfriend, Grace, is pushed to the edge, first by his self-absorbed ‘woe is me’ attitude, and then by his almighty ego when he is endowed by the powers of the man upstairs. This relationship struggle is the anchor of the film, the grounding of an otherwise outlandish comedy premise.

The supporting cast is all excellent, with Steve Carell’s smarmy Evan Baxter and Morgan Freeman’s deliciously poised God both standing out. Carell in particular is a comedy lightning bolt in Bruce Almighty, stealing almost every scene he is in with his unique, composed lunacy. The scene where Carrey, using his supernatural powers, changes the teleprompter as Evan reads the news never fails to cause an outburst of laughter and is perhaps the singularly funniest moment in the entire film.

Bruce Almighty represents the true talent of Jim Carrey’s endlessly energetic physical and verbal comedy. Director Shadyac, with writers Steve Oedekerk, Steve Koren and Mark O’Keefe, has crafted a comedy goldmine for Carrey to bounce around in. Bruce Almighty is filled with Carrey’s rubber-faced lunacy and the trademark heart and warmth for which Shadyac has become known. The wackiness and silliness never runs rampant, held to the right ratios by the sweetness of the movies moral aim and the talents of actors such as Aniston, Freeman and Philip Baker Hall, who plays Jack Baylor, Nolan’s boss in the film.

Like Liar, Liar, the concept is unreal. But with Carrey’s sharp comedic timing, the film’s tender center and many solid visual effects, Bruce Almighty is easy to bite into and enjoy. Add to this the undeniable funny talents of the ever rising star that is Steve Carell (despite the box office misfire of the Almighty follow-up, Evan Almighty), and you get a great comedy gem.

Inspired casting (Freeman especially), numerous scenes filled with plenty of funny (Carrey’s meltdown, the teleprompter scene, the opening bakery scene) and enough ‘aahhh’ moments to keep the Lifetime network going for a month, Bruce Almighty rightfully belongs amongst Carrey’s finest films and Shadyac’s most balanced directing accomplishments.

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Bruce Almighty comes to us from Universal Studios in 1080P High Definition, with its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and encoded VC-1. This is quite a colorful film, as many comedies are, and the colors are fairly rich and nicely produced. The film is evenly sharp throughout and doesn’t show any obvious signs of edge enhancement or other unwanted distractions. The image doesn’t exactly pop and at times, it seems as though something is missing, but, despite that, it has never looked this good in our home theaters.

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Universal has provided Bruce Almighty with an English and French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio track. As I haven’t taken a lick of French since school back in the 80’s I rightfully chose to watch this one with the English 5.1 track and was very impressed. This is a lively, rich and warm audio track, filled with deep bass and active surrounds. Some comedies fall flat when it comes to the audio, but Bruce Almighty really delivers.

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Outtakes - (6:36) – Outtakes rarely fail to entertain, and these are no different. While they are not quite as intensely funny as those shown just after the credits begin to roll, they are still well worth the time to watch for a giggle.

The Process of Jim - (5:54) – This brief extra with director Tom Shadyac talking about the process of creating comedy that Jim goes through on set is interesting, even if the examples the director shares with us don’t quite make the point with a slam dunk.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Tom Shadyac - (30:27) – Over thirty minutes of deleted scenes, many of which are equally as funny as scenes left in the film. Contained here are some discarded plot threads and extra trimmings around scenes left in. There is a good lesson in here on the power of editing, too!

Feature Commentary with Director Tom Shadyac - This is an informative commentary with the director as he shares plenty of good anecdotes from the filming of the movie. An energetic track, that slows towards the middle before finding the energy again as the film comes to a close.

Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts

I have always been a fan of Jim Carrey, ever since his low-brow Ace Ventura character brought him to the masses, appealing to my appreciation of toilet humor and talking butts. When the role is right, the script flexible and the director trusting, Carrey can carve out a character that becomes embedded in the minds of millions. Bruce is one of those characters and Bruce Almighty is one of those films whose appeal is broad and unquestionable.

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Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
My DVD Collection

#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Rachael B

Rachael B


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  • Join Date: Jun 05 2000

Posted August 28 2007 - 02:29 PM

I watched it with my dog but the lesson didn't take.
Rachael, the big disc cat is in real life Dot Mongur, Champion of the International Pacman Federation. You better be ready to rumble if you play Jr. Pacman with me. This is full contact Pacman and I don't just play the game, I operate it!