Bruce Almighty (2003)
A guy who complains about God too often is given almighty powers to teach him how difficult it is to run the world.
Bruce Nolan, a television reporter in Buffalo, N.Y., is discontented with almost everything in life despite his popularity and the love of his girlfriend Grace . At the end of the worst day of his life, Bruce angrily ridicules and rages against God and God responds. God appears in human form and, endowing Bruce with divine powers, challenges Bruce to take on the big job to see if he can do it any better.
Bruce Nolan doesn't think the world is treating him fairly. He is a news reporter who keeps getting the worst stories he could ever get, and life just doesn't seem to go right for him. The one person he blames the most is God. But when God responds, Bruce finds himself taking on God's responsibilities. Now his chance to make life perfect has appeared, but as he enjoys his new found powers, he starts to mistreat the things that matters the most.
Bruce Nolan hates his life, but after complaining to God, it is about to get a whole lot better. Endowed with all of God's powers, Bruce sets out to fulfill his every fantasy. Before long, Bruce has achieved complete satisfaction in both his work and sex lives, but before long, Bruce's home life starts to suffer.
Fed up with being confined to corny stories, the small-time New York television reporter, Bruce Nolan, dreams of becoming the station's news anchorman, only to lose that job to his self-centred rival, Evan Baxter. Extremely disappointed and hacked off with his miserable life, Bruce rails at the Almighty, so much that God announces it's high time he took a holiday--leaving mortal Bruce in charge--going as far as to encourage him to spend an entire week in His shoes. Now--as the obnoxiously omnipotent Bruce puts his unfathomable powers to the test, becoming an overnight sensation--suddenly, he comes to realise that power and responsibility go hand in hand. Will Bruce stop playing God and consider the grave consequences of his actions?
Bruce Nolan is a television reporter, who is currently assigned what he considers to be undignified assignments, that has him being the butt of a joke. When he is told that he is being considered for the position of anchorman, he goes out to do a live feed but when it is announced that Evan Baxter was going to be the new anchorman, and he freaks out. He gets fired, beaten up, and so on. In the end he blames God. God then decides to give Bruce his powers. Bruce then wreaks havoc and is enjoying it. He sabotages Evan and gets the job of anchorman. But when he realizes that he has to deal with what has got to be God's most arduous task, listening and answering prayers. When he tries to grant everybody what they want, turmoil ensues. And while Bruce is getting everything he wants, he has been ignoring his girlfriend, Grace and loses her. And it seems that the only thing that he can't do, is alter a person's free will, so if he wants her back, he has to do it the hard way.
- (This synopsis contains spoilers.)
"Bruce Almighty" is the story of a news reporter named Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) who covers fluff stories for TV news in Buffalo, New York. The story opens with Bruce in a bakery, spidery hairnet yanked over his forehead, diligently reporting on the largest cookie ever baked in Buffalo. At the end of the sequence, we are introduced to one of the films running jokes, "That's the way the cookie crumbles."
Racing back to the station, Bruce gets caught in traffic and vents his frustration about the fact that his life is in a go-nowhere rut. Arriving late to an important meeting, fellow staffers--including nemesis Evan Baxter (Steve Carrell)--needle Bruce mercilessly about his clownish coverage at the bakery, further exacerbating his bitterness about being stalled on his career path. In the exchange with Evan, we see that Bruce has a lively, but dark, sense of humor and won't take anything lying down. After the meeting, Bruce begs his boss, Jack Baylor (Philip Baker Hall), to consider him for the open anchor position.
Later that night, Bruce watches the news with his live-in girlfriend, Grace Connelly (Jennifer Aniston), at a middle-class but homey one-bedroom apartment. Sitting on the couch with their dog, Grace tries unsuccessfully to enlist Bruce's help with a photo album commemorating highlights of their relationship, but Bruce is too preoccupied with feeling sorry for himself until he happens upon an x-rated photo of them making love, and whisks Grace off to the bedroom.
The next morning, Bruce drops Grace off at the Red Cross to give blood. He's still in a bad mood, so she gives him her prayer beads, saying he needs them more than she does. Bruce reluctantly takes the prayer beads, which are useless to him since he never prays, and makes fun of Grace for wasting her time giving blood.
At the station, Bruce learns he's being sent into the field to cover an important story at Niagara Falls, assuming from this apparent promotion that he is in line for the anchor position that just opened up. The producer sets the scene in front of the spectacular falls, with Bruce in a comical umbrella hat interviewing an elderly woman about early days at Niagara.
Surrounded by the tremendous rushing of the falls, Bruce is interrupted mid-interview for a big announcement from the station, waiting breathlessly to hear that he got anchor. Instead, the position is awarded to Evan, and Bruce has a serious meltdown in front of the camera, repeatedly insulting Evan, verbally abusing the two interviewees, and then capping off his report with the statement "Back to you, fuckers!" Needless to say, the network fires Bruce, and he is thrown out on the street with all his stuff, including a framed photograph of Walter Cronkite. Bruce responds with another of his running jokes, the sarcastic remark, "B-E-A-utiful!"
Bruce arrives home late to dinner and picks a fight with Grace, who tries her best to appease him. In a rage at life, he turns on her, calling their life together mediocre. She takes it personally, which inflames him all the more, and he slams out of the apartment, yelling, "The worst day of my life with a side order of GUILT please!"
Increasingly furious, Bruce goes for a drive, shaking the prayer beads and cursing heaven. It's raining hard as he gets out of the car, lost in the turmoil of his feelings, continuing to berate God, crossing the highway, without regard for oncoming traffic, to toss the prayer beads as far out into the lake as he can.
Back at the apartment next morning, Bruce's beeper starts to go off repeatedly with a high-pitched shriek. He doesn't recognize the number and finally gets so annoyed that he tosses the beeper out into the street, where it gets run over by a car. The dog, who is not housebroken, pees on a chair, so Bruce takes him outside, only to hear the flattened beeper still going off in the middle of the street.
Aggravated beyond words, and unable to stop the beeper from going off, Bruce calls the number and listens to a tape recording of someone who apparently knows everything that's going on in his life. Intrigued, he drives to the address he got over the phone, finding himself in Buffalo's warehouse district.
Bruce gets out of car to look for the address, stepping in a huge, filthy puddle that splashes all over his jeans. He enters a warehouse to find that the ground floor is empty except for an African-American janitor (Morgan Freeman) mopping the floor. Bruce asks for directions to room seven on the seventh floor, finding much to his annoyance that the elevator doesn't work. As he heads for the stairs, the janitor asks him to help mop the floor, and Bruce retorts that he would be happy to help in seven days at seven o'clock.
Arriving on the seventh floor, Bruce finds himself in a huge, empty room that's painted stark white. As he calls out for help, the janitor climbs down a ladder through a hole in the ceiling connected to a brightly lighted room above. Bruce think the janitor must have taken the elevator to get there ahead of him, and watches while he strips off his coveralls and sits down behind a white desk impeccably dressed in a white suit and tie, disclosing--much to Bruce's amusement--that he is, in fact, God.
God proceeds to prove his powers by showing Bruce a file cabinet that contains everything that ever happened in his life. The drawer is so long that it pushes Bruce all the way across the room, then slams shut again dragging Bruce along behind. Bruce is still sceptical, so he and God play a game where God guesses how many fingers Bruce will hold up. Bruce is finally convinced that something strange is going on when he holds up one hand with seven fingers just as God says, "Seven."
God has a plan for Bruce. Since Bruce thinks God isn't doing a very good job, he will give Bruce all his powers and see if Bruce can do any better. God retreats to his ladder, clapping for the lights to go back on so he can climb back up. "Clap on, clap on," is another joke that repeats throughout the film. Bruce makes a quick exit, not believing a word of what this self-proclaimed God has told him.
Outside in the street, Bruce finds that he can walk across the puddle that tripped him up earlier. His car won't start until he bangs his hands on the steering wheel and yells, "Start!" As he drives, he realizes that all his fantasies--such as for example being Clint Eastwood---easily come true.
Bruce stops at a diner to order coffee and the waitress convinces him to add an order of tomato soup. He agrees, then decides to try out parting the Red Sea with his bowl of soup. The soup parts in two, Bruce's hair flies about, amazing another customer. God appears out of nowhere, sitting in the booth across from Bruce as he finally comes to the realization that he does indeed possess all of God's powers.
Bruce and God then go for a walk, where God tells Bruce about the two rules of his powers; he can't tell anyone he's God, and he can't mess with free will. Bruce then sees a boat sail past, and he realises that the two of them are walking on a lake in Buffalo. God then leaves Bruce, and Bruce runs off to have fun with his powers.
Returning to the centre of Buffalo, Bruce struts down the street gleefully, eager to use his powers on whatever he wants. He points his fingers at a fire hydrant, causing it to burst, and water to fly out. He then sees an attractive young girl walk past, and he causes a gust of wind to lift her skirt, giving him a good view of her underwear and bottom. Bruce spies a trendy set of clothes being worn by a mannequin in a shop window, and uses his powers to swap them with his own clothes.
As he struts further down the street, Bruce spots the gang that beat him up earlier, and decides to get some revenge on them. He demands that they apologise to him, but they just laugh, and Bruce is told by the gang leader that he'll get his apology the day a monkey comes out of his butt. Thanks to Bruce's powers however, that was that day, and a monkey forces its way out of the man's rear end. The other thugs run off, but are chased by a swarm of bees that Bruce spits out after them. He then commands the monkey to return into the gang leader.
Bruce then teleports himself to the top of a skyscraper, creates a lightning storm, and declares "I am Bruce Almighty! My will be done!".
Back at their apartment, Grace is sat drinking wine, when she hears Bruce outside singing. When she opens the door, he kisses her, and presents her with a bouquet of flowers, which he informs her are a new breed; a cross-pollination between tulips and daisies, which he calls "Todayzees".
While Grace goes to get a vase for the flowers, Bruce heads out onto the balcony, commanding the stereo to play romantic music. He then alters the night sky to make it more romantic; he erases the clouds, creates new stars, and pulls the moon closer.
Grace then walks out onto the balcony, and the romantic sky, as well as Bruce running his hands through her hair, leads to her becoming very aroused. They start kissing, before Grace runs off to the bathroom to prepare for sex. Bruce then runs into the bedroom, using his powers to turn the lights off, light candles, and make his clothes (apart from his underwear) fall off.
Bruce then decides to use his powers to encourage Grace into the bedroom, and give her a bit of a treat. While he dirty-talks her, Bruce uses his divine powers to make Grace have a series of incredibly powerful orgasms, and she writhes and moans in ecstasy as she collapses onto the bathroom floor. Grace then emerges from the bathroom, full of lust, and she pounces on Bruce for a night of indescribably pleasurable lovemaking.
The next morning, Grace watches TV, and sees a news report about a tidal wave in Japan, which was caused by "unusual lunar activity". Meanwhile, Bruce is still in bed, sleeping among the bedsheets, which have been completely strewn about by the previous night's amorous activities. He is awoken by strange voices in his head, but he quickly shrugs them off.
Bruce gets dressed and heads downstairs, surprising Grace with a kiss, before sitting down for breakfast. They briefly discuss the previous night's lovemaking, which they both agree was "heavenly". Grace then tells Bruce that, when she'd woken up that morning, she'd felt like her boobs were bigger. He denies that they're bigger, but she insists on it. After getting a bit tongue-tied, Bruce leaves to get his job back.
Bruce's plan includes finding the long missing body of Jimmy Hoffa. When he reports back to the station everyone applauds and Bruce is hired back to his old job of reporting on fluff stories that all somehow turn out to be late breaking news. On Evan's first night as anchor, Bruce uses his special powers to endow him with a humiliating stutter.
Bruce becomes increasingly enchanted with his new powers and ability to do anything he wants to make his life better. He tries to be good to Grace who thinks that he's on the verge of a marriage proposal. They go out for dinner at the restaurant where they first met, and he gets down on his knees in a romantic way, not for a marriage proposal, but to brag that he finally got anchor!
Grace is confused and hurt by Bruce's odd behavior, and the bizarre things that are happening around the apartment, such as their dog learning how to use and even flush the toilet. In the meantime, Bruce starts hearing voices in the background, like a huge crowd that's chattering away at a distance. Sometimes the noise increases almost to a roar and starts to overwhelm him.
God appears and informs Bruce that he's hearing the sound of people praying. Bruce tries various ways to deal with all the prayers, finally using a computer program that downloads everybody's prayers like email. He tries to go through all the prayers one at a time but finds it an impossible task. Giving up, he hits a key and yells, "Yes to all!" Unfortunately, this means that everybody who was praying to win the lottery wins all at once, so each winner only gets $17 and chaos ensues. Bruce's self-centered and incompetent attempts at playing God are beginning to wreak havoc all over the globe.
Bruce roams the city in despair, and suddenly finds himself up on top of Mt. Everest with God, thinking that he might be in heaven. They talk and God shows Bruce that he has only been using his power in selfish ways and this is destroying everything, including Bruce's relationship with Grace. If Bruce wants a miracle, he's going to have to "be the miracle," giving voice to main theme of the film.
The network holds a party to celebrate Bruce's promotion to anchor. By now, Grace is completely alienated and refuses to attend. Using his powers, Bruce finds a way to persuade her, but she arrives to find Bruce not quite resisting a sexy co-worker who's trying to seduce him. This is the last straw for Grace and she breaks off the relationship.
Bruce arrives back at his lonely apartment, finally realizing that he's going to have to start using his special powers to help people in need. He can't use special powers to housebreak his dog, he has to use intelligence, patience, and ingenuity. He still tries to use his special powers to try to get Grace back, but it doesn't work since he's breaking one of the rules God gave him... that he can't use his powers to "mess with free will." When he complains about this, God replies, "Welcome to my world."
Bruce races back to the warehouse where he first met God, and finds him mopping the floor. Coincidentally, it's seven o'clock on the seventh day since they first met, so God hands Bruce a mop and says, "Right on time." They mop the floor together and Bruce finally understands what he has to do to fix the mess he has made.
Bruce makes amends with Evan, ensures that he is reassigned to anchor, and goes back to covering human interest fluff stories. He even finishes the photo album that Grace started to commemorate the highlights of their relationship. When Grace's sister (Lisa Ann Walter) comes to pick up Grace's stuff, and sees that Bruce has finished the album, she takes pity on him and tells him that Grace prays for him all the time.
Bruce races to his computer and downloads Grace's prayers. A new one comes in and he realizes she's praying for him right then. He watches her cry and, seeing her desperate unhappiness, feels utterly forlorn and helpless. Wandering around the city in a state of emotional anguish, much like the night he got fired, he kneels in the middle of the road to pray and is smacked head on by an oncoming truck
Bruce suddenly finds himself up in the clouds face-to-face with God in heaven. They have a conversation during which God teaches Bruce how to pray. When Bruce gets the hang of it, God presses his fingers against Bruce's chest and there's a huge crashing buzz that Bruce finds very painful. Next, Bruce awakens to glaring lights in the middle of the road with an EMT defibrillating him.
Next, we find Bruce in a hospital bed looking pretty bashed up. Grace comes and climbs in the bed, full of compassion and forgiveness. After his discharge, still in a cast, he returns to the bakery where we found him at the beginning of the film. The bakers display a huge cookie in the shape of a hypodermic needle to promote the Red Cross blood drive and a huge crowd has gathered to donate. Bruce announces that he and Grace are engaged, and goes off with her to give blood, repeating the film's theme, "Be the miracle."