Ash has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.
Bruce Almighty is a 2003 fantasy comedy starring Jim Carrey as the main character, Bruce Nolan, and Morgan Freeman as God.
Amazingly enough, this movie -- with its wholesome and heartwarming moral -- came from Tom Shadyac, the same guy who did the Ace Ventura films, as well as Liar Liar.
I'm not ragging on his other collaborations with Carrey. I grew up with Ace Ventura and Liar Liar and I actually still like both films a lot (as well as Cable Guy and just about every other film Carrey ever made). I'm making a point that while those other films were just silly, goofy fun, Bruce Almighty actually attempts to impart a moral lesson.
I'm also not saying that every film should be preaching to us or teaching us things. I'm just pointing out in surprise that the same guy who made a film where the main character talked out of his ass was capable of making a film about learning to love yourself and be grateful for what you have.
When the film first starts, Bruce is pretty miserable with his life, even though his life is actually pretty great. He has a good job where all he has to do is be funny on TV. He can afford to eat, has all the facilities in his house such as light and heat. He has a nice apartment in a nice part of town and a beautiful girlfriend who adores him, wants to marry him, and wants to have his babies.
Bruce's biggest problems are a dog that keeps peeing on the rug and the occasional traffic jam on his way to work -- both things that can be solved easily and are solved easily by him toward the end of the film.
Bruce has got it pretty damn good.
But all he can do is bitch and whine like a spoiled child about wanting to make anchor and has a meltdown when Evan (Steve Carell), his rival at work, makes anchor instead.
Bruce's boss tries to tell him that Evan is an a**hole and that he shouldn't want to be like him, when in reality, Bruce is an a**hole too.
On top of being ungrateful for his wonderful life, Bruce tells his girlfriend that he doesn't want a mediocre life -- effectively telling her she's not good enough for him. Honestly, he treats Grace (Jennifer Aniston) like absolute crap throughout the entire film.
He also keeps blaming God for all his problems, as if he weren't living the high life. Bruce should really be glad he wasn't born some starving kid with AIDS in Africa. But he throws a tantrum when he doesn't make anchor and is (rightfully) fired from his job for being unprofessional on the air.
Grace gives Bruce her prayer beads, and this is where the film gets real in the message it's trying to convey.
There's a reason that people use prayer beads and rosarys to talk to God. It's because they make it easier for God to answer. You don't have to have prayer beads, but they help a great deal. Personally, I think it's because there is something sacred about wood (not that all prayer beads are wood), as it comes from trees -- the ultimate symbol of unconditional love, which is God.
Bruce is so steeped in his low vibrational, negative energy that he can't understand it when God answers him by paging him. God -- the Universe, the Source -- communicates through numerology, the language of the angels. So when the movie had God answer Bruce with numbers on his pager, synchronicities, and signs, it was being very realistic.
Bruce getting in a car crash and having a near death experience because he didn't heed God's signs is also pretty realistic.
Most people going on a spiritual journey have to have a near death experience before they wake up and start noticing what the Universe is trying to tell them. You could almost say Bruce was on a spiritual journey in this film, that he was going through a Dark Night of the Soul (albeit a comfy version compared to what most people go through).
True to the spiritual path, it is after his near death experience that Bruce connects with God and is granted his powers.
It is at this point in the film that Bruce shows what a petty a**hole he is. Instead of helping other people, and I don't know, solving world hunger, he immediately sets out to make his own life better and abuses the power he's been given in order to serve himself.
He mind controls his dog into using the toilet, robbing the poor creature of agency. He lifts an unsuspecting woman's skirt as he is passing her -- which is all levels of shitty. He gets himself a new car and forces the other drivers to move aside so that he can have full access to the road.
He also sets out to get revenge -- a petty and low vibrational desire -- by having the guy who beat him up poop a monkey (really painful and cruel), and getting Evan fired from work so that he can take his anchor position.
To top the rest off, Bruce gave Grace bigger breasts, modifying her body without her knowledge or consent. This is pretty awful.
Honestly, Bruce was so cruel to Grace throughout the film. He constantly ignored her and what she wanted -- to marry him and start a family -- because all he could think about was himself. He couldn't even stop to realize that she was unhappy and that he was stringing her along in a relationship where her needs and desires were ignored.
I'm not absolving Grace of responsibility. If she was unhappy and they didn't want the same things, she should have just left. But Bruce also played a role in her unhappiness that he is responsible for. He was a prick and didn't deserve Grace at all.I felt so bad for her when she thought he was going to propose and all he could do was brag about making anchor.
At the end of the movie, Grace (finally) leaves Bruce, and what is his immediate response? To use his powers to make her love him. In other words, Bruce had no qualms about violating his girlfriend's agency to make her return to him.
Thankfully, it didn't work because -- freewill.
Probably the worst thing about the film is that Bruce doesn't really do anything to absolve himself. He gets in another car accident and is saved by Grace (badum-tish) when she donates her blood to him.
Bruce nearly dying is what makes Grace return to him -- not the realization that he's become a better man, full of gratitude and self-love, who now loves and respects her and no longer hates himself and his own life.
Basically, this part of the film could have been better written, but I love the movie (and Jim Carrey) so much that I'll gladly let it slide.
At the end of the day, Bruce learns that loving himself and being grateful for everything he already has -- while rolling up his sleeves and doing some work in his own life -- will make everything fall into place.
It's a very true lesson, and if more people just started loving themselves and being grateful for what they had, it would make the world a much better place to live.
You wanna see a miracle? Be a miracle.
© 2019 Ash