|Bruce Almighty is a 2003 American comedy film directed by Tom Shadyac and written by Steve Koren, Mark O’Keefe and Steve Oedekerk. It stars Jim Carrey as Bruce Nolan, a down-on-his-luck TV reporter who complains to God that He isn’t doing His job correctly, and is then offered the chance to try being God himself for one week. Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, Catherine Bell, Lisa Ann Walter, and Philip Baker Hall also star, while Tony Bennett makes a cameo appearance.
This is Tom Shadyac and Jim Carrey’s third collaboration after working together in Shadyac’s first film, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, which also launched Carrey’s career. Six years earlier, Shadyac and Carrey worked together to make the successful 1997 film, Liar Liar.
The film was a box office success despite mixed reviews from critics. When released in American theaters in May 2003, it took the #1 spot at the box office, grossing $85.89 million, higher than the release of Pearl Harbor, making it the highest-rated Memorial Day weekend opening of any film in motion picture history until the release of X-Men: The Last Stand over Memorial Day 2006. The movie surprised media analysts when it beat The Matrix Reloaded after its first week of release. By the time it left theaters in December 2003, it took in a United States domestic total of over $242 million and $484 million worldwide, breaking records as the 17th highest-grossing live action comedy of all time.
Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is a television field reporter for Eyewitness News on WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York, who, through his continuous coverage of media interest stories, rather than hard news, is unsuccessful at getting a job as an anchorman. He is in love with his girlfriend Grace (Jennifer Aniston), but is also very attracted to his gorgeous co-worker Susan (Catherine Bell) who doesn’t even notice him. When anticipating a promotion to a vacant anchor position, and while on the air, Bruce becomes furious when he hears that rival co-worker Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) gets promoted and he gets fired. After Bruce gets fired from his job, he complains to God (Morgan Freeman) that He isn’t doing His job correctly. God then contacts Bruce and grants Bruce all of His powers so as to prove he can do a better job. The only limitations are that Bruce cannot tell people he is God, and he cannot interfere with free will. Bruce uses his new-found omnipotent powers for personal gain — he gets revenge on a street gang that assaulted him earlier in the film, acquires a Saleen S7 sports car, gets his job back by uncovering the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa and makes his girlfriend’s breasts bigger. However, he is routinely bothered by a cacophony of voices which only he can hear.
Bruce uses God’s powers to gain the reputation “Mr. Exclusive” by causing exciting news, such as a meteor impact, to occur whenever he is reporting. He also forces Evan to humiliate himself on air, and Evan is removed as anchor in favor of Bruce. Bruce takes Grace to dinner to tell her this, and Grace is disappointed as she was expecting him to propose. As Bruce is once again overwhelmed by voices, God appears to him and tells Bruce the voices are prayers, and will continue to build up if not answered. He also confronts Bruce on using his powers for personal gain and not helping people. Reading the prayers in the form of e-mails, Bruce attempts to answer them individually, but when he discovers he is receiving prayers faster than he can respond, Bruce decides to set his e-mail account to automatically answer “yes” to all prayers, assuming this will make everyone happy.
At a party to celebrate his promotion, Bruce attempts to call Grace to get her to come but she doesn’t pick up. However, when Grace arrives, Bruce is then seduced by Susan who passionately kisses him. Grace witnesses this and leaves him. Bruce tries to use his powers to win her back but cannot, as he is not allowed to interfere with free will. Bruce finds that his abuse of his powers have consequences: some people take the meteor impact and other phenomena as signs of the apocalypse while others are outraged over thousands winning the lottery (resulting in each person only winning around $17) and a riot breaks out in the city. Brought before God again, Bruce protests that he only gave people what they wanted, and God tells Bruce that people need to stop looking to him for answers. Bruce begins to solve the problems in his life practically, and helps people personally, such as a homeless man who has appeared to him at times holding philosophical signs. That evening, Bruce decides to look at the prayers Grace has sent and discovers she continually prayed for his success and well-being. As a new prayer begins to arrive, Bruce goes to witness Grace praying in person, and hears her wishing to not be in love with him any more so she will stop hurting.
Depressed, Bruce walks on to a highway and submits to God, asking Him to take back His powers and trusting Him with his fate. Bruce is suddenly struck by a truck and is brought before God in a white void. God asks Bruce what he really wants, and assuming he is dead, Bruce asks that Grace find a man who may make her truly happy and see her through God’s eyes, even if it is not Bruce. God agrees and revives Bruce, who wakes up in the hospital to be told “someone up there” favors him. Bruce and Grace reconcile and become engaged, and Bruce gives Evan the anchor position back, going back to his old unglamorous stories and taking a new delight in them. The ending scene features a slow close-up of the homeless man, whose image morphs slightly and he is revealed to be God.