Maybe not heavenly, but still Almighty funny

Jim Carrey is making a comeback, and what a comeback it is. After leaving the film scene for two years (and taking a three-year hiatus from the comedy genre), he is back and busier than ever. Bruce Almighty releases this weekend and Carrey is already working on four more films throughout the next two years. Fortunately, unlike many washed-up stars, Carrey is on the verge of making a successful, and very humorous, comeback.

Bruce Almighty is the story of Bruce Nolan (Carrey), an aspiring TV anchor and a mere mortal, accepting the omniscient and omnipotent powers of God (Morgan Freeman). Bruce has been, as he claims, ignored by God, when in fact he suffers from nothing more than bad luck interwoven with the inability to successfully pursue his goals.

After being unfairly passed up for a promotion and an incident of momentary insanity on a live TV feed, Bruce gets fired, thrown out of his job and beaten up. Finally, after cursing at the Lord and challenging the Almighty to give him a sign, Bruce keeps getting paged by a mysterious phone number.

Eventually, after returning the call, the number leads him to God, an apparent rendition of the Christian supreme being, who wants to take a vacation and picks Bruce to take his powers. Thinking this task will be easy, Bruce accepts the offer. There are only two rules to this deal: Bruce must not let anyone know he has the powers, and he may not interfere with free will.

The rest of the film includes everything from Bruce parting the soup in his bowl to a rather lengthy lecture from God about the responsibilities a divine being has.

Simply put, the movie is one of Carrey’s best efforts to make his audience hurt from laughter. Bruce Almighty is saturated with Carrey’s signature facial expressions and quirky movements, but that’s not the only thing that makes the movie hilarious. The religious references, and other various forms of spoken humor, are well written and delivered. Also entertaining are the outtakes, which are part of the credits.

While the latter part of the movie is thoroughly drenched in moral discussions between Bruce and God, even those sequences are sprinkled with humor.

In addition to the difficulties of being God, Bruce must deal with his personal life. Bruce’s girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Aniston), adds a romantic twist to the comedy. She’s the perfect foil to Bruce, as she worships God rather than challenges him.

While the film sometimes dances on the thin line of tastefulness, it manages to balance itself on the non-offensive side of it, at least most of the time. While religion may be a somewhat touchy subject, the film takes a good approach by delivering subtle references to the Bible, such as turning water into wine and worshiping a golden calf.

Carrey makes the film what it is, there is no question about it, but the movie manages to give much attention to the supporting actors as well.

The movie is weighed down by the morality of it all, but a subject of this gravity, at least for mass audiences, cannot be treated any differently by Hollywood — subtlety is not the weapon of choice here.

This is truly a worthy comeback for a star whose last attempt in film (The Majestic), albeit an attempt at seriousness by a born comic, was a total failure. Bruce Almighty is the best comedy release yet this summer.

Comedy, PG-13, Running time: 100 min.3 and a 1/2 (out of 5 stars)