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Bruce Almighty review

There was a time when Jim Carrey was God. In Hollywood at least. Then the novelty wore off, his films got worse and he slipped off his cloud.

Well, that's putting it simply. In truth, Carrey consciously moved away from his "earlier, funnier" movies, halting the gurning antics so he could stretch his acting chops instead. Thing is, Man On The Moon and The Majestic did sod all business (and failed to get Jim his coveted Oscar nom), so it's time for Carrey to re-establish his box-office credentials.

Enter director Tom Shadyac, the man who started Carrey's celestial ascent with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and put him back on course with Liar Liar after The Cable Guy had blotted out the stars. Add a script that's tailormade for Carrey's comedic strengths - hey, let's make Jim God for a week! That'll let him off the leash! - and you've got the closest Hollywood ever gets to A Sure Thing.

Local TV reporter Bruce Nolan (Carrey) is convinced that the big guy in the sky is against him. Bruce is the butt of office jokes, he never gets a break and now, just when he's getting his first shot at going live on-air, he learns that arch-rival Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) has pipped him to the news anchorman job. It's meltdown time, Bruce launching into a blasphemous tirade to the cameras - and promptly getting sacked. If only God would give him a helping hand, just a little sign, to help him right his life... Or, alternatively, show up in the calm form of Morgan Freeman. And show up with an offer, no less: you take over for a while; let's see if you can do a better job.

So much for the set-up, but what about the gags? Well, what would you expect a Jim Carrey character to do if he was granted supreme powers? Make a pretty girl's dress fly up around her waist? Yep. Give his long-time girlfriend Grace (a woefully under-challenged Jennifer Aniston) bigger boobs? You betcha. Take childish revenge on the people who have pissed him off in the past? Why, of course.

Okay, so it's autopilot stuff, running a predestined path as Captain Carrey rips through his entire repertoire of bendy-bodied antics and frenzied gob-shiteing. But it works. High concept, low comedy. What more do you want from a Carrey flick? And there are some neat touches too - operating from the stark white offices of Omni Presents, God is a 21st-century kinda guy, utilising computers and phones to shuffle the world's spiritual concerns. Hell, he even uses a beeper to answer Bruce's initial plea for help.

It's a shame, then, that Bruce takes on a more pious tone in the final reel, and gets predictably bogged down in a romantic mire. What came before may not have been divine comedy but it was damn well good enough. So why stray from the path?

Jim Carrey is back on top in more ways than one. There's nothing here to make non-believers see the light, but JC fanatics will be worshipping at the altar of gurn.

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