Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Watch a news bulletin on a subject that you are already familiar with, and you will tend to feel that you are not being told the full story.

I think this happens for two reasons:

1. The reporter is unlikely to be an expert on the story that they have been asked to cover today.

2. The reporter knows that most of their audience are not experts either.

The makers of Bruce Almighty were unlikely to make a smart film about God unless they had first spent some time wrestling with the concept's implications.

I know I'd have the same problem if I tried to make a film about a belief-system that I didn't share.

Now I'm not going to whinge on about this (I don't know the beliefs, if any, of the film's makers) but to make my point I am going to cite just one token example.

In the film, Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is given the power of God, however among other things this comes with having to listen to lots of prayers. So he converts them into emails and just clicks on the button to blanket grant all of them. Never does this script seem to realise that many of those prayers would have contradicted each other. Token example over.

If you'd seen Jim Carrey before this in anything other than The Truman Show (in which he'd played quite a straight role), then you'd know what Bruce Almighty was really all about. Give Jim Carrey's outrageous characterisations the power to do absolutely anything, then sit back and watch the wild spectacles that ensue.

I had two problems with this:

1. Before I watched this film on 6th March 2004, I had only ever seen Jim Carrey in The Truman Show (in which he'd played quite a straight role).

2. Special effects cost a lot of money.

Consequently we're treated to Bruce with six fingers on his hand, Bruce opening a very very long drawer, Steven Carell's character speaking gibberish...

It looked as though Jim Carrey had cost a lot of money too...

I suppose I could harp on about how hard it is to feel sorry for a character who is a TV celebrity, is in a relationship with Jennifer Anniston, and who then receives unlimited power for a short while, but I've made my point - that I just didn't like it. If others did, then that's great, but I didn't. Mind you, it was nearly six years ago that I watched it, so my memory has probably just unkindly selected the worst bits to remember. At the time, I recall that I was more accepting of it.

Anyway, the consolation after watching any film that one hasn't really taken to is the knowledge that, for the rest of one's life, one will never have to sit through anything like it ever again.

What? WHAAAT? You actually made a sequel to THIS?!?

On some level I ought to have been rooting for this underdog. Here was this follow-up movie that had been made despite the shortcomings of the original, despite four years having passed, and oh yes despite the non-availability of one Mr. James Carrey.

If I had been expecting to dislike the first film, then this one I was expecting to totally despise.

Oh, but I was wrong, I was so, so wrong...

Next to The Passion Of The Christ, I think Evan Almighty is the most Christian film I've seen come out of Hollywood.

It's not tremendously deep or anything, but it has a story that holds together, characters who overcame my prejudice and grew on me, and does the unthinkable by portraying a man's journey as he stands up for his belief in God in front of his family, friends, co-workers and country.

But funny? Well now that really is subjective...

It's quite cartoonish in places, and some of the predicaments that Carell's character finds himself in are, frankly, contrived, but then it is a comedy about God trying to get someone to build an ark in modern-day America.

There's an odd scene when Carell's character (I still can't recall the name) is getting followed around by a lot of animals, who are waiting for him to build the ark. So he goes to this work meeting where he sits in front of a large fish-tank, only for the fish to keep following him whichever direction he leans in.


Not actually impossible within the world of the story though.

My favourite scene is between God - still played with mischievous joy by Morgan Freeman - and our hero's long-suffering wife. I like it because, whoever wrote it and whatever they believe if anything, I'm finding it something that I actually am taking on board in my Christian faith...

God: "Let me ask you something.

If someone prays for patience,
you think God gives them patience?

Or does he give them
the opportunity to be patient?

If they pray for courage,
does God give them courage,

or does he give them opportunities
to be courageous?

If someone prayed
for their family to be closer,

you think God zaps them
with warm, fuzzy feelings?

Or does he give them opportunities
to love each other?"

So much for my opening argument.


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