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In Bruce Almighty, the Word of God doesn’t come out of Jim Carrey’s ass. And that, surprisingly, is a disappointment. Fans awaiting Carrey’s triumphant return from Majestic melodrama to Ace Ventura comedy won’t find it here: From its angry start to its Capra-corn end, Bruce Almighty forgoes Liar Liar silliness for, well, a Liar Liar message. Carrey is uncomfortably unrecognizable in the opening act as Bruce Nolan, disgruntled TV newsman. Seems Bruce is pushing 40 and can’t move beyond fluff pieces on such topics as the creation of Buffalo’s biggest cookie. Puddles and bladder-challenged dogs don’t cut him any slack, either, helping make him the angriest man alive—a state he willingly shares with his co-workers, his loving girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Aniston), and, most vocally, God. Watching Carrey as someone who’s constantly bitching at both his girl and the dog isn’t much fun (except when he intentionally botches a live-from-Niagara Falls interview with a little old lady who was on the inaugural Maid of the Mist voyage, saying, “I’m here with Katharine Hepburn’s mom” and asking her why she threw the Heart of the Ocean over the side of the Titanic). The mood shifts, but the movie doesn’t exactly improve, when God (Morgan Freeman) summons Bruce and offers him His job for a while. Bruce is thereafter a much nicer character to be around, freed as he feels from the straits of fate, but the let’s-see-what-I-can-do parade of events that follows isn’t all that entertaining. (Lest true believers lose faith: Something does eventually come out of a lesser actor’s ass.) Instead of being simply a showcase for all-powerful schtick, Bruce Almighty turns awfully religious, preaching goodwill to men (OK), lobbing anger-filled lines such as “You know what Grace does every night? She prays!” (getting weird), and targeting the audience’s heart with a scene of Grace sobbing in a bedroom, begging God for the ability to stop loving her estranged Bruce and let him go (totally, completely out of place). God tells Bruce that one of the few rules in playing Almighty is that he can’t mess with free will—but maybe a persuasive agent can lead Carrey back to his rightful path. —Tricia Olszewski