Bruce Almighty arrived on the scene in 2003, well into the period where Jim Carrey was trying to expand his repertoire from an unending grab bag of goofy faces to actually putting his talent of physical comedy to more dramatic use. In many ways, the film expands on the template created with its predecessor, Liar Liar. The duo of Carrey and director Tom Shadyac return to deliver another message comedy with heart; but this time the story becomes more than just an excuse for outrageous slapstick. They take on the generally taboo comedy subject of God.
Putting God in a film is tough, because of the crowded minefield of reactions you're bound to get from all sides. You either have to make God so vague and benign to the plot that you might as well have left him out, or you just create a dogmatic picture that won't be able to connect universally. Comedy only compounds the problem, because does God really have a sense of humor that draws a large opening weekend? Probably not, but Jim Carrey does, so his frustrated Everyman character shoulders the primary burden of lesson and self discovery. And since he becomes endowed with all God's powers, we learn from his humorously selfish and dimwitted mistakes, instead of from something more exalted and preachy.
Bruce Nolan (Carrey) really has no idea just how good he has it. He has a pretty cush job as the human interest reporter for a local TV station, a loving and affectionate girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston), and a pretty sweet Datsun roadster. But between traffic, a dog that routinely pees on the upholstery and his inability to get ahead at work, he begins to obsess about his own life's little problems and wonders why God can't just give him a break (ie: everything he wants). However, his self-centered frustration eventually does catch up with him, when he loses it on the air, gets fired, and then gets in a fight with his his girlfriend that almost costs him the relationship. That's when God decides he's going to have to step in a bit more dramatically than usual, in order to wake him up.
God (Morgan Freeman, playing one heck of a God) decides that he's going to teach Bruce a lesson by giving him all his powers. If Bruce thinks that managing everyone's problems is so easy, and that people should just automatically get whatever they think they want... then he's more than welcome to take a turn at the wheel. Flush with his new powers, Bruce proceeds to "fix" all the problems that seemed so vital before. He wows his girlfriend with romance; he gets revenge on his nemesis reporter at work (Steve Carrell, who practically steals the show during his newscast segments), resulting in a promotion; and generally struts around like he owns the place. But as anyone who's ever seen a movie before in their entire life should well know... his selfishness begins to catch up with him. Turns out that some of the tricks he pulled to get what he wanted resulted in dire consequences for others; and when he tries to help things out by just giving people what they want, it only makes matters worse.