PG-13 for language, sexual content and crude
Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman,
Lisa Ann Walter, and Nora Dunn
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By Ted Baehr
Suppose for a moment that God is not omnipresent, but an anthropomorphic
deity who looked down from heaven and saw that many of His beloved created ones
were not attending church, but rather getting their inspiration from the movies.
Suppose that this deity decided to use the silver screen to relay some important
aspects of his character. How might he choose to do it? Through a comedy with
big-name worldly actors? Might he possibly choose to use a movie with some of
the rough elements to which the world can relate? The movie Bruce Almighty
appears to have such a perspective.
Starring Jim Carrey, Jennifer Anniston and Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty
is the story of a young man, Bruce, who is frustrated with life and angry with
God for not fixing things. He is living with his girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer
Anniston), and working as a second-rate anchorman for a television network.
He covers the local events that no one else wants while he watches his co-worker
continue to get promoted. Though TV audiences love him and look forward to the
zany humor he puts into every story, Bruce lives his life in constant frustration.
He not only hates his job and rival co-worker, he hates the traffic, his car
and the silly little projects his girlfriend wants him to do, like scrapbooks.
Bruce curses and fumes that he just has no luck and no good breaks in life.
He tells Grace that God is ignoring him, that God is like a mean kid holding
a magnifying glass over an ant, burning off his tentacles and laughing. And,
Im not OK with it! Bruce rails. Im not OK with this mediocre life! God could
fix my life, but he doesnt!
One day Grace gives Bruce some prayer beads, which he hangs on his rearview
mirror. After a particularly frustrating day at work, when he gets passed over
for another promotion, Bruce picks up the beads and cries out to God. OK, God,
he pleads, I need a miracle. Show me a sign! Im desperate, Lord. Reach down
into my life and. . . CRASH! After swerving to avoid a truck laden with every
type of sign imaginable, Bruce crashes his car into a wall. Hes not really
hurt, but he jumps out of the car to rail at God some more. He hurls the prayer
beads into the water and screams, OK, then. Smite me, you Mighty Smiter! Youre
not doing your job!
Instantly Bruces beeper goes off, and he sees a number he doesnt recognize.
After it continues to go off, he finally answers, and a recorded voice invites
him to interview for a great job. The next week, he goes to the address given
and finds himself on the first floor of the Omni Presents Co. He talks to a
janitor, played by Morgan Freeman, who suddenly reappears on the 7th floor
dressed in white. He is screwing in an extremely bright light bulb, and he asks
Bruce if its too much light. Bruce says its OK. The janitor replies, Most
people dont like the light because they live their lives in the dark. After
chatting awhile, he finally tells Bruce that He is God and proves it in a fun,
humorous way. He tells Bruce that He has heard his complaints and would like
to offer him the job of God for a while. He says, When you walk out of this
building, you will have all my powers. He cautions him to remember two rules:
1) He cant tell anyone Hes God; and, 2) He cannot interfere with free will.
Terrified at first, Bruce quickly becomes delighted. He proceeds to perform
such miracles as the parting of his tomato soup, the rustling up of a mighty
wind that causes a womans dress to blow up high, the terrifying of a street
gang thats been harassing an old man (he causes a monkey to come out of the
ringleaders rear end, but this is not explicitly shown), the increasing of
his girlfriends breast size, using his supernatural powers to make her strongly
sexually aroused, the public humiliation of his co-worker who got the promotion,
and the finding of the body of mobster Jimmy Hoffa, followed by great public
acclaim for the finder Bruce himself! Bruce is even dubbed Mr. Exclusive,
and the TV station erects a billboard in his honor.
Yes, all is going well for "Bruce Almighty." Its a life of non-stop
power and pleasure feeding his narcissism, until he starts hearing something
in his head. What could those confusing noises be? When Bruce is able to calm
his mind, he hears, Now I lay me down to sleep Dear Lord God, my sons in
trouble Father, I need you Its prayers! Hundreds of thousands of prayers
from people all over his town! What does one do with these? Bruce tries creating
a computerized system to answer all the prayers, but its impossible. They just
keep coming, faster and faster! Bruce decides to give everyone what he or she
wants. Thousands win the lottery, but this soon leads to a revolt because each
winner gets only $17.
Needing a break, Bruce attends a wild party in his honor. A terrible misunderstanding
leads to Grace breaking up with him. The two go off alone. Later, a song plays
the lyrics, Theres a God-shaped hole in all of us. Devastated, Bruce makes
one last appeal to God. Lord, I surrender to your will, he cries with outstretched
arms. Can Bruce make some powerful decisions in order to right the cosmic wrongs
hes created or is it too late?
A few moviegoers will find Bruce Almighty to be a fun movie that demonstrates
aspects of the nature of a theistic deity. God is shown to have humor (He even
says Alrighty then! a humorous nod to one of Careys other films), grace,
power, and a clever ability to create perfect scenarios for his beloved, but
ignorant creation to acquire character through relationship. The movie has awesome
songs throughout it, including, Are you ready for a miracle? It accurately
portrays that all believers must surrender to God, and it extols creationism.
(If you think this day was good, imagine what I can do in seven!)
The movie shows these powerful truths, however, through a very unscrubbed framework.
There are roughly 18 mild obscenities, 11 profanities (including one or two
taking Jesus name in vain), a handful of body humor references, several rude,
obscene hand gestures, the backside of a photo of a naked woman, and many, many
instances of railing at God, almost to a sacrilegious degree.
There are many points of theology, many of which reflect the perspectives of
other non-Christian and pagan religions and do not cohere with Christianity
or the Bible, as well as points which are merely heretical. The deity in the
movie has few of Gods attributes and none of his awesome sovereign nature,
for as the Bible says, It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the
living God. (Hebrews 10:31 (NIV))
The deity in the movie says that he is going on vacation which he clearly does
not do since he is monitoring Bruce the whole time and could not do if he was
the God of the Bible who is omnipresent as well as omnipotent and omniscient.
Furthermore, the deity in the movie plays a joke on Bruce, and Bruce as God
resembles the god of mischief who possessed him in the movie The Mask
more than the God of the Bible. In fact, he takes revenge on several people
in vile ways when he has the powers of God, and his mean-spirited vengeance
is never fully rebuked in the movie, although he does change his attitude because
he wants Grace to love him.
Compounding the theological problems, toward the end of the movie, the deity
calls humans to make their own miracles and chastises people for looking up
to him and not becoming the miracle themselves, in contrast to the Bible call
to us to always look up to our redeemer and savior.
Another point of dubious theology is the idea that God can give His powers to
humans and the notion of free will in the movie goes beyond the Pelegian and
Arminian heresies to directly conflict with the sovereignty of God. Of course,
human beings derive talents, gifts and fruit from God, such as the gift of love,
or the gift, sometimes, of wisdom, and we are created in the image of God, although
we all bear the broken chromosome of Adams sin and all of us have fallen short
of the glory of God.
Finally, the Biblical God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and the
Creator of a world of order. In the movie, Bruce rudely moves the moon and the
stars and other astronomical bodies with minor consequences, thus violating
the laws of physics.
Bruce repents and is saved apart from any acceptance of Jesus Christ (whose
name he uses for a curse word several times). If this is possible, then Jesus
Christ did not need to die on the cross for our sins and his death would, as
Paul notes, mock the very idea of a good God.
In fact, God has come in the flesh - Jesus Christ - who is fully God and fully
man. Therefore, God incarnate looks like who he is, Jesus Christ, with the marks
of the crucifixion in his hands, feet and side. Jesus dismissed those who asked
for the Bruce Almighty-type miracle, saying that they had already rejected
the many signs that God had sent them.
Still, the movie makes its main point that Gods ways are higher than our ways.
In that sense, Bruce Almighty might remind many people of a modern watered
down re-telling of the Book of Job in the Bible.
Because of the movies objectionable content, however, Bruce Almighty
is not a movie for Christians. Instead, its a movie for a select few of the
lost and frustrated masses who are desperately searching to know the love of
the one true God. By the true Gods sovereign grace, those in such a state may
find something in Bruce Almighty to set them on a better, more spiritually
correct path. Thus, perhaps, Bruce Almighty will serve as one more gritty
but divine lantern directing audiences to search out the true Almighty, and
His Son, Jesus Christ - if there is someone there to witness to them!
NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine: For more information
from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by
calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org.
Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing
parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives
and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best
at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online
subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org.
The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles
and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.
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