Bruce Almighty
A man with the world hanging from his finger like a yoyo
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTom Shadyac
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Steve Koren
  • Mark O'Keefe
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyDean Semler
Edited byScott Hill
Music byJohn Debney
Production
companies
Distributed byUniversal Pictures (United States/Canada)
Spyglass Entertainment (International)[2]
Release dates
  • May 14, 2003 (2003-05-14) (Hollywood)
  • May 23, 2003 (2003-05-23) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$81 million[4]
Box office$484.6 million[4]

Bruce Almighty is a 2003 American fantasy comedy film directed by Tom Shadyac and written by Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe and Steve Oedekerk. The film stars Jim Carrey as Bruce Nolan, a down-on-his-luck television reporter who complains to God (played by Morgan Freeman) that he is not doing his job correctly and is offered the chance to try being God himself for one week. It co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Philip Baker Hall, and Tony Bennett. The film is Shadyac and Carrey's third collaboration, after Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) and Liar Liar (1997).

When released in American theaters on May 23, 2003, Bruce Almighty received mixed reviews from critics, and was a box-office success and grossed $86.4 million in its opening weekend, a Memorial Day record at the time.[5] The film surprised the industry's pundits when it beat The Matrix Reloaded the following weekend. It went on to gross $484 million worldwide.

Evan Almighty—a spin-off sequel focusing on Steve Carell's character, with Shadyac and Oedekerk returning to direct and write, respectively, and Freeman also reprising his role—was released on June 22, 2007.

Plot

Bruce Nolan is a television field reporter for Eyewitness News on WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York, who usually covers mundane news stories, but desires to be the station's anchorman. When Bruce's coveted job is taken by his rival, Evan Baxter, a vulgar on-camera outburst leads to his dismissal from the station. After a series of misfortunes, Bruce complains to God that "He's the one that should be fired". Bruce receives a message on his pager, which takes him to an empty warehouse where he meets God. God offers to give Bruce his powers (in a limited section of Buffalo), under two conditions—Bruce cannot tell others he is God, nor can he use the powers to alter free will.

Bruce at first uses his powers for personal gains, such as getting his job back, exacting revenge on a street gang that bullied him earlier, and impressing his girlfriend, Grace Connelly. He also causes miraculous events to occur at otherwise mundane events that he covers, such as discovering Jimmy Hoffa's body during a segment on police training, or causing a meteor to harmlessly land near a cook-off, earning him the nickname "Mr. Exclusive". Bruce also causes Evan to embarrass himself on-air, consequently getting Evan fired, and Bruce becomes the new anchor. However, Bruce also starts hearing voices in his head and re-encounters God, who explains the voices are prayers that Bruce must deal with. Bruce creates a computerized email-like system to handle the prayers but finds that the influx is far too many for him to handle, and thus sets the program to answer every prayer 'Yes' automatically.

During a party celebrating his promotion, Grace discovers Bruce kissing his co-anchor, Susan Ortega, and quickly leaves. Bruce follows her and tries to use his powers to convince her to stay, but cannot influence her free will. Bruce later discovers that Buffalo has fallen into chaos due to his actions: parts of the city believe the Apocalypse is nearly upon Earth due to the meteor strikes, while a large number of people, all having prayed to win the multi-million dollar lottery and received only seventeen dollars in return, have started rioting in the streets. Bruce returns to God, learning he cannot solve all the problems and so must figure a way out on his own. Bruce thus starts helping others without divine powers, including giving Evan his job back. As he returns to his computer at home and goes about answering prayers, he finds one from Grace, wishing for his success and well-being. Another prayer from Grace immediately arrives, this one wishing not to be in love with Bruce anymore, to avoid further pain.

Realizing his selfishness, Bruce walks alone on a highway, asking God to take back his powers and leaving his fate in his hands. Bruce is suddenly hit by a truck and meets God in the afterlife. When God asks him what he really wants, Bruce admits that he only wants to make sure Grace finds a man that would make her happy. God agrees, and Bruce is finally resurrected from the dead and taken to the hospital, where his doctors help him recover. Grace arrives at the hospital and rekindles her relationship with Bruce. Following his recovery, Bruce returns to his field reporting job and decides to take more pleasure in the simple stories.

Cast

Production

The Shoin building at the Japanese Garden in Los Angeles was used as the spa.

In June 2000, it was announced that Universal had paid over $1 million for a spec script titled Bruce Almighty[6] with the intention of positioning the script as a directing vehicle for Tom Shadyac via his Universal based production company Shady Acres.[6] Jim Carrey signed on to star in March 2002 with Steve Oedekerk rewriting the script.[7] Previously, Carrey had been slated to star in another comedy for Universal titled 'Dog Years' to be directed by Gary Ross, but following that film's cancellation, Universal were eager to get Carrey onto another project.[7]

Filming of Buffalo was done in the "New York Street" at Universal Studios Hollywood. The restaurant with Tony Bennett was filmed at Cicada, in the James Oviatt Building, downtown Los Angeles.[8] The spa scene with Jennifer Aniston was filmed in the Shoin building at The Japanese Garden in Los Angeles.

Release

The movie was released on May 23, 2003, by Universal Pictures. Universal handled distribution in the United States and Canada (although they were originally planned to distribute the movie worldwide) while Spyglass Entertainment handled sales rights internationally.[9] Buena Vista International acquired distribution rights in a majority of regions[10][11] except in Scandinavia, Germany and Japan, where it was handled by distributors who already held deals with Spyglass in those respective territories. United International Pictures[12] and Pony Canyon[13] respectively handled theatrical and home video rights in Japan, while SF Studios handled Scandinavian distribution through subsidiaries AB Svensk Filmindustri in Sweden,[14] SF Film A/S in Denmark[15] and FS Film Oy in Finland.[16]

Home media

Bruce Almighty was released on DVD and VHS on November 25, 2003.[17]

Reception

Box office

Bruce Almighty earned $67.9 million during its opening weekend, which made it the highest for a Jim Carrey film, surpassing How the Grinch Stole Christmas.[18] This record would be held until the opening of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in 2022.[19] At the time, it was one of three Universal films of 2003 to make opening weekends of $50 million, joining 2 Fast 2 Furious and Hulk.[20] In its first four days, the film generated a total of $86.4 million, becoming the second-highest Memorial Day weekend debut, behind The Lost World: Jurassic Park. It opened in the number one spot at the box office, beating The Matrix Reloaded.[21] This would only last for a week, as the spot was taken away by Finding Nemo.[22] The film was released in the United Kingdom on June 27, 2003, and topped the country's box office that weekend.[23] There, it made a total of $8.3 million, beating Batman Forever to have the highest opening weekend for a Jim Carrey film in the country.[24]

Bruce Almighty joined The Matrix Reloaded, Finding Nemo, X2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl to become the first five films to earn over $200 million at the box office in one summer season.[25] By the end of its theatrical run, the film had made $242 million domestically and a total $484 million worldwide, making it Aniston and Carrey's highest-grossing film worldwide, as well as the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2003.[4]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 48% based on 191 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Carrey is hilarious in the slapstick scenes, but Bruce Almighty gets bogged down in treacle."[26] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 46 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[27] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars, calling it: "A charmer, the kind of movie where Bruce learns that while he may not ever make a very good God, the experience may indeed make him a better television newsman." Ebert praised Aniston's performance: "Aniston, as a sweet kindergarten teacher and fiancée, shows again (after The Good Girl) that she really will have a movie career."[28] Variety's Robert Koehler gave the film a mixed review: "There's remarkably little done with a premise snatched from high-concept heaven, adding yet another file to the growing cabinet of under-realized comedies."[29] The Los Angeles Times gave it a negative review and called it "not so mighty".[30]

Controversies

The film was banned in Egypt because of its portrayal of God as an ordinary man. Bans in both Malaysia and Egypt were eventually lifted after the nations' censorship boards gave the film their highest rating (18-PL in the case of Malaysia).[31][32]

As God contacts Bruce using an actual phone number rather than one in the standard fictional 555 telephone exchange, several people and groups sharing this number received hundreds of phone calls from people wanting to talk to God, including a church in North Carolina, US (where the minister was named Bruce), a pastor in northern Wisconsin and a man running a sandwich shop in Manchester, England.[33] The producers noted that the number (776-2323) was not in use in the area code (716, which was never specified on screen) in the film's story, but did not check anywhere else. For the home-video and television versions of the film, the number was changed to the fictional 555–0123.[34][33]

Accolades

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Association Category Nominee Results
ASCAP Film and Television Music award Top Box Office Films John Debney Won
ASCAP Film and Television Music award Most Performed Song from a Motion Picture "I'm With You" Graham Edwards
Avril Lavigne
Won
BET Comedy award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Box Office Movie Morgan Freeman Nominated
Black Reel award Film: Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Golden Schmoes award Most Overrated Movie of the Year Nominated
Image award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Morgan Freeman Won
MTV Movie + TV award Best Comedic Performance Jim Carrey Nominated
MTV Movie + TV award Best Kiss Jim Carrey
Jennifer Aniston
Nominated
MTV Movie award, Mexico Most Divine Miracle in a Movie (for the chest of Grace) Jim Carrey Won
Nickelodeon Kid's Choice award Favorite Movie Nominated
Nickelodeon Kid's Choice award Favorite Movie Actor Jim Carrey Won
People's Choice award Favorite Comedy Motion Picture Won
Teen Choice award Choice Movie Actor - Comedy Jim Carrey Won
Teen Choice award Choice Movie Actress - Comedy Jennifer Aniston Nominated
Teen Choice award Choice Movie - Chemistry Jim Carrey
Morgan Freeman
Nominated

Soundtrack

Bruce Almighty: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
John Debney, Various Artists
ReleasedJune 3, 2003
GenreSoundtrack
LabelVarèse Sarabande
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic [35]

The soundtrack was released on June 3, 2003, by Varèse Sarabande. Tracks 8-13 are from the score composed by John Debney, performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony (conducted by Pete Anthony) with Brad Dechter and Sandy De Crescent.

Track listing
  1. "One of Us" - Joan Osborne
  2. "God Shaped Hole" - Plumb
  3. "You're a God" - Vertical Horizon
  4. "The Power" - Snap!
  5. "A Little Less Conversation" - Elvis vs. JXL
  6. "The Rockafeller Skank" - Fatboy Slim
  7. "God Gave Me Everything" - Mick Jagger featuring Lenny Kravitz
  8. "If I Ruled the World" - Tony Bennett
  9. "AB Positive"
  10. "Walking on Water"
  11. "Seventh at Seven"
  12. "Bruce Meets God"
  13. "Bruce's Prayer"
  14. "Grace's Prayer"

Related media

Sequel

Main article: Evan Almighty

A sequel and spin-off, titled Evan Almighty, was released on June 22, 2007, with Steve Carell reprising his role as Evan Baxter and Morgan Freeman returning to his role as God. Although Shadyac returned to direct the sequel, neither Carrey nor Aniston were involved with the film, and Carrey's character, Bruce, is never mentioned in the film. The film was a critical and commercial failure.

Before Evan Almighty materialized, screenwriters Steve Koren and Mark O’Keefe envisioned a sequel with the title Brucifer. The proposed sequel involved Aniston's character dying and Carrey's character, under the weight of his grief, takes on Satan's powers, which he uses to resurrect Aniston's character.[36]

References

  1. ^ a b Bruce Almighty at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ "Spyglass joins U for 'Bruce'". August 2, 2002.
  3. ^ "BRUCE ALMIGHTY (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. May 22, 2003. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Bruce Almighty". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  5. ^ "Bruce Blesses Memorial Weekend with $85.73 Million". Archived from the original on June 14, 2006. Retrieved May 31, 2006.
  6. ^ a b "U's 'Almighty' spec". Variety. Archived from the original on November 15, 2022. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Carrey takes 'Almighty' gig for U Pix, Shadyac". Variety. Archived from the original on November 15, 2022. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  8. ^ "Filming Locations for Bruce Almighty (2003) in Los Angeles". Archived from the original on November 28, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  9. ^ Dunkley, Cathy (August 2, 2002). "Spyglass joins U for 'Bruce'". Variety. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  10. ^ "BVI hits milestones with Pirates, Bruce Almighty". ScreenDaily. Archived from the original on January 13, 2018. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  11. ^ "BVI goes over the top o'seas". Variety. October 20, 2003. Archived from the original on January 13, 2018. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  12. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (March 30, 2003). "UIP to distrib Spyglass duo in Japan". Variety. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  13. ^ トム・シャドヤック (April 21, 2004), ブルース・オールマイティ ミラクル・エディション, ポニーキャニオン, retrieved November 22, 2023
  14. ^ "Bruce Almighty (2003) - SFdb". Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  15. ^ "Bruce Almighty". www.dfi.dk. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  16. ^ "Fixgalleria.net".
  17. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (October 31, 2003). "November: Almighty month for movies". Post-Gazette Staff Writer. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 92. Archived from the original on April 8, 2023. Retrieved April 8, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  18. ^ "'Bruce Almighty' easily wins box office". United Press International. May 26, 2003. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  19. ^ McClintock, Pamela (April 10, 2022). "Box Office: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Booms With $72M Bow, Ambulance DOA". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on April 10, 2022. Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (June 22, 2003). "Green meanie's no weenie". Variety. Archived from the original on July 30, 2022. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  21. ^ "Weekend box office surprises even 'Almighty'". Los Angeles Times. May 27, 2003. Archived from the original on March 19, 2022. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  22. ^ Breznican, Anthony (June 2, 2003). "'Nemo' sinks 'Bruce' at box office". The Associated Press. The Cincinnati Enquirer. p. 26. Archived from the original on April 3, 2022. Retrieved April 3, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  23. ^ "Weekend box office 27th June 2003 - 29th June 2003". www.25thframe.co.uk. Archived from the original on December 30, 2016. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  24. ^ "Almighty opening gives Carrey career best UK launch". Archived from the original on January 27, 2021. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  25. ^ "Analysis: Hollywood's hot summer". United Press International. September 2, 2003. Archived from the original on March 1, 2022. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  26. ^ "Bruce Almighty". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 5, 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  27. ^ "Bruce Almighty". Metacritic. Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  28. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 5, 2003). "Bruce Almighty movie review & film summary (2003)". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on January 31, 2020. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  29. ^ Koehler, Robert (May 23, 2003). "Bruce Almighty". Variety.
  30. ^ "Not quite divine". Los Angeles Times. May 23, 2003. Archived from the original on August 30, 2022. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  31. ^ "Middle East Online". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
  32. ^ "Malaysian Muslims call for ban on movie, AFP, Fri July 13, 2007". Archived from the original on December 7, 2008.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  33. ^ a b "Hold the phone — that fake number works - Chicago Tribune". March 29, 2011. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  34. ^ "Man 'shares God's phone number'". June 30, 2003. Archived from the original on May 14, 2007. Retrieved April 10, 2007.
  35. ^ Phares, Heather. "Review: Bruce Almighty: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  36. ^ Sharf, Zack (November 22, 2022). "'Bruce Almighty' Writers Detail Unmade Sequel 'Brucifer': Jim Carrey as Satan, Undead Jennifer Aniston and More". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on November 22, 2022. Retrieved November 23, 2022.