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Bruce Almighty

Seen: 2003.05.29   ¶   Reviewed: 2003.05.29 (!)

Morgan Freeman as God or Jim Carrey as a mortal with enough responsibility to bear God’s powers. Which is harder to believe?

Answer: It’s a tie.

One had just finished watching Russell T. Davies’ British miniseries The Second Coming over the weekend. A punter from Manchester reveals himself to be the actual son of God. An apocalyptic ending was just barely averted, because that would be predictable, and the author of Queer as Folk doesn’t do predictable. The actual ending is vastly more disturbing, and the miniseries joins The Rapture and (I’m not kidding) The Stand as tremendously haunting fantasies of Judeo-Christian endtimes.

So it’s all very funny to give mugging Jim Carrey the power to move heaven and earth. Notice that he can’t play it straight to save his life. Then again, I didn’t see The Majestic (who did?), but it was all smirks and overplayed punchlines at inappropriate moments in The Truman Show. (Speaking of heaven and earth, why has Andrew Niccol’s star fallen?)

It was rather odd to watch the Buffalo ABC station we receive here as the setting for poor besieged Jim Carrey, who of course works in the media rather than, say, pushing paper in an office. His complaint of a “mediocre apartment” was a bit rich, too, since it comes equipped with closets, multiple rooms, wood mouldings, and busty Jennifer Aniston. Great to see the lovely and talented Steve Carell doing absolutely anything the script demanded, which chiefly amounted to dressing very well indeed and the deadpan utterance of nonsense noises for minutes at a stretch.

“Behind every great man is a woman rolling his eyes.” My sentiments exactly.

Oh. The phone number everyone is dialing? The one on Bruce’s pager? God’s phone number? It’s 776-2323. Add it to your speed dial. (Oh, and there’s another one: 1 900 4 GIV HIM. Give that one a whirl from an office phone or your friend’s house.)

Theatre experience

The same overwhelmed manager as before was on duty. He fetched some Windex to clean the impossibly filthy caption reflectors.

On the way in with my two cups of water with ice (I live high on the hog at Yonge & Eligible), I pass the projectionist, whose new two-tone haircolour is dynamite. We say hello.

Auditorium was almost completely empty. Early showtime, few trailers, no commercials I can remember. And no placeholder message on the caption display. Why not, I wonder?

The movie starts. No captions, no descriptions. “I’ll be right back,” I tell Mr. X.

Out I go to the lobby. The overwhelmed manager is surprised (he conceals it well) that something else has yet again gone wrong. He gets on the radio. I can tell from his end of the conversation that this manageress knew the system was down, but he didn’t, and neither did the playaz. He talks to the projectionist, too, sending him to Cinema 8.

Out the manageress comes, eventually. Unsmiling, dour, treating the whole scenario like an unpleasant work duty she has to get through, the manageress tells me that, while moving the display last week, they dropped it and it’s been busted since.

General Sound, or whoever the contractor is, had been in twice to fix it. Too late to change the newspaper ads (probably), but why does the sign downstairs still say (RWC/DVS)? And why weren’t all managers notified, if not all playaz? Isn’t a system breakdown kind of serious?

Unsmilingly, the manageress dourly wrote out a free pass for next time, which I brought back to Cinema 8 for Mr. X. Just as I explain that they dropped the display and the system has been down for a week, everything starts up right then and there!

It’s a miracle!

We watch the movie without incident. Or interest, of course.

Caption quality

(over monitor):
Bruce Nolan here.

I suppose that was necessary.

GRACE (voice-over): and BRUCE (voice-over): No, it’s Grace and Bruce talking inside the house. We’re looking at an establishing shot of the exterior. They aren’t narrators.

And the hideously literal narrow phonetic transcription of the magic phone number:

BRUCE (voice-over): [inevitably now]


Just write BRUCE: 776-2323, for heaven’s sake.

Description quality

It’s Gaille Heidemann at the mike.

“Bruce closes the door”: With his godly powers, you mean.

“He nervously spatters ketchup as she gazes down at her ample cleavage.”

“He stands with a throw pillow stuck to his shirt. He throws it back onto the bed.” So that’s what throw pillows are for.

At closing credits, “Remaining opening credits.” Then again, we missed the credits. Doesn’t mention that, when God claps his hands at the end (a particularly risible and common form of product placement), we cut to black.


No problem.

Exit interview

I thought it would be wise to give everyone the good news that the system was working fine. It’s a new playa at the desk. We tell him twice it’s working fine. He’s not interested in doing anything about it. I ask him twice to call a manager. He gets the overwhelmed fella on the phone and tries to explain things. The phone is handed to me. I state that the system miraculously restarted. Yes, he says, because the projectionist looked at it. You mean he rebooted the box? I ask. He doesn’t know.

Mr. X speculates that the system had actually been fixed and nobody bothered to try it out. I suppose.

While on the phone with the manager, the playa picked up our two reflectors and dumped them on a rear counter. The corner of one reflector put a nice scratch in the other one. “Hey!” I yelled at the playa and into the phone. Don’t be throwing those things around. You just put a scratch in that one! I took the opportunity to rat out the playa to the manager on the phone.

So let’s recap: Managers claim playaz don’t have time to Windex reflectors, which is demonstrably false, and I witnessed one playa throwing the equipment around like horseshoes.

There aren’t any problems with Famous Players’s procedures, right? Nothing needs to be fine-tuned, a long year and a half into the life of the system, right?

Oh. And after Windexing my reflector? It was still smudgy, and the smudges reflected ambient light beautifully.

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