The film is Shadyac and Carrey's third collaboration, having previously worked together on Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in 1994 and Liar Liar in 1997. It co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Ann Walter, Philip Baker Hall and Steve Carell, and received mixed reviews from critics.
When released in American theaters on May 23, 2003, Bruce Almighty opened to $85.9 million, making it the top Memorial Day opening weekend of any film in history at the time. The film surprised film pundits when it beat The Matrix Reloaded the following weekend. By the end of its theatrical run, it made $242 million domestically and a total $484 million worldwide, making it the fifth highest-grossing film of 2003.
Evan Almighty, a spin-off sequel focusing on Carell's character, with Shadyac and Oedekerk returning to direct and write, and Freeman also reprising his role, was released in 2007, however it was a critical and commercial failure.
Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is a television field reporter for Eyewitness News at WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York, but desires to be the news anchorman. He is in a healthy relationship with his girlfriend Grace Connelly (Jennifer Aniston), but also has a mild crush on his co-worker, Susan Ortega (Catherine Bell), who barely seems to notice him. Bruce, however, suffers from constant bad luck, and reaches breaking point when he is passed over for promotion by his rival, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), who then steals dialogue from Bruce's segment while accepting the promotion on air.
Furious, Bruce aggressively and profanely criticizes the station during his first live report, and is promptly fired. Following a series of other misfortunes, Bruce takes out his frustration on God (Morgan Freeman), blaming Him and claiming that He is "the one who should be fired."
Bruce later receives a message on his pager directing him to an empty warehouse, where he meets God. God offers to give Bruce His powers, to prove that He is doing His job correctly. God gives Bruce two rules that he must follow: firstly, Bruce cannot tell anyone else that he has God's powers; and secondly, Bruce cannot use the powers to interfere with free will. Bruce ignores God and is initially jubilant with the powers, using them for personal gain such as potty training his dog, getting revenge on a street gang that assaulted him earlier, exposing a woman's underwear by blowing up her dress, transforming his beat up car into a Saleen S7, and sexually impressing Grace.
Bruce also finds ways of using the powers to cause miraculous events to occur at otherwise mundane events that he covers, such as discovering Jimmy Hoffa's body or causing a meteor to harmlessly land near a cook-off, earning him his job back. Bruce then uses his powers to cause Evan to humiliate himself on air, causing Evan to be fired in favor of Bruce as the new anchor.
After taking Grace to a fancy dinner and telling her he made anchor (angering her, as she thought he was going to propose), Bruce begins to hear voices in his head. He re-encounters God, who confronts Bruce about his selfish use of his powers. Sexplains that the voices are prayers to God, and that Bruce must deal with them. Bruce creates a computerized system to receive the prayers and respond, but finds that the influx is far too great for him to handle — even though God had stated that he is only receiving prayers from the Buffalo area — and sets the program to automatically answer Yes to every prayer.
During a party to celebrate Bruce's promotion, Susan seduces and kisses him. When Grace arrives and sees this, she storms out; Bruce follows her, but she is heartbroken and will not listen to him. He tries to use his powers to convince Grace to stay, but cannot influence her free will. As Bruce looks around, he realizes that automatically granting everyone's prayers has plunged the city into chaos. Bruce returns to God, who explains that despite how chaotic things seem, there is always a way to make things right, and that Bruce must figure out a way to solve it himself. Bruce then begins to solve his problems in life practically, such as helping a man whose car has broken down, training his dog normally, and allowing Evan to have his job back.
Bruce returns to his computer system, having briefly unplugged it, and goes about answering prayers manually as best he can. As he reads through them, he finds a prayer from Grace, wishing for Bruce's success and well being. As he reads it, another prayer from Grace arrives, this one wishing not to be in love with Bruce anymore. A despondent Bruce walks alone on a highway, asking God to take back His powers and letting his fate be in His hands. Bruce is suddenly struck by a truck and regains consciousness in a white void.
God appears and asks Bruce 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 finds himself in the hospital, shortly after being revived — near miraculously — by the doctors. Grace arrives and the two rekindle their relationship, later becoming engaged. After his recovery, Bruce returns to his field reporting but takes more pleasure in the simple stories. Bruce and Grace announce their engagement on live television. The film ends with the doomsayer Bruce previously ran into on various occasions finally revealing himself to be God.
Sound Effects Used
- Hollywoodedge, Body Falls Wooden Flo PE107401
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- Hollywoodedge, Chimpanzee Screeche PE026201
- Hollywoodedge, Fart 1 Medium Fart Clo PE138901
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- Hollywoodedge, Medium Exterior Crow PE140401
- Hollywoodedge, Toilet Flush 2 Old Typ PE167401
- Hollywoodedge, Wood Door OCKnob Ratt PE180201
- UNIVERSAL STUDIOS LOGO (1997) JINGLE