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"Bruce Almighty"

IF GOD came down to earth and granted his powers, what would one ask or do? Save the world from pestilence? Feed all starving children? Or maybe bring world peace? But Bruce Nolan, small time reporter for a TV channel in Buffalo, potty trains his dog, gets his soup to part majestically like the Red Sea, transforms his bruised car into something very swank and grants people their dreams of winning the lottery. There is more, but that would be telling!

It's been a while since Hollywood has come up with the theme of God on earth and teaching a few lessons while he is here. Bruce desperately wants to be the anchorperson — but he must first do the rounds of soft stories such as the biggest cookie made in Buffalo! Things come a head when his anchor position is given to a rival, Evan Baxter (Steven Carrell) and when Bruce is about to do a live piece from the Niagara Falls, he finds himself scorned and cracks up.

Things couldn't get worse for him and he raves and rants till God meets him in an empty warehouse aptly named Omnipresent in this Columbia Pictures' venture. Obviously, God has had enough of complaining. And he has a lot of convincing to do to make Bruce believe that He is really God.

As it turns out God wants a vacation from the incessant prayers and wants Bruce to run the show. But there are two conditions — he must tell no one about his powers and should not mess with free will. Now that Bruce has the power what is he to do? Except try to make all his dreams come true? But then when things go the way he wishes, they really are not what he wants. With the moral angle lurking about, the film deals with a man learning the importance of being unselfish and helping others. Finally of course, the route to the climax is safe and predictable.

There are several funny moments when Bruce experiments with his powers. But the one, which has a monkey coming out of the backside of one of the gangsters, is pretty gross. But then it's a Jim Carrey movie!

But it is puzzling that Carrey with all his powers does not figure out his girlfriend's thoughts about their relationship. While light heartedness is the predominant mood, thankfully Jim has scaled down his contortions and facial expressions.

Morgan Freeman is dignified and makes a good God! JenniferAniston, who plays the suffering girlfriend, seems wasted here. At the end of it all, it would seem that the idea of the director Tom Shadyac, is to turn on the camera and generally let the comedian have fun.

CHITRA MAHESH

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