Greetings. In this proposal I will be talking about God from the ‘Almighty’ series. One thing I want to clarify about this proposal is that in my “who is he done” section, I will be explaining plenty of things from the perspective of the titular characters, rather than the character in question, and the purpose of this is to help readers properly understand the role that God plays in these films.
What’s the work?
The ‘Almighty’ series consists of two films: Bruce Almighty (2003) and its sequel Evan Almighty (2007). These films fit the comedy genre with themes of religion. Each of these films take place from the perspective of their titular characters, who are greeted by God personally to learn important lessons.
Who is he? What has he done?
God makes his first appearance in subtle ways, by posing as a homeless man holding up messages directed at Bruce Nolan, who has been complaining a considerable amount to God, blaming him for not being happy with his life. Eventually, he would meet with Bruce in person to confront him over his complaints, and show him that playing God is not as easy as it sounds. To do this, he would grant Bruce all of his powers and say nothing else for the time.
As Bruce comes to terms with it, after having used God’s powers for a few hours, God reappears and lets Bruce know he is free to use his powers however he chooses, with some limitations. He is not allowed to tell people he is God, and cannot interfere with free will. Bruce continues to use God’s powers for self-serving reasons, rather than for helping others. As time went on, Bruce would start to hear voices in his head, and God clarified that these were prayers, and that Bruce had a responsibility to answer them.
When Bruce is found to be irresponsible at playing God, ruining his relationship with Grace as well as causing a flood and the city to riot by improperly addressing his prayers, he calls to God for help. Here, he would be able to finally enlighten Bruce on the difficulties of being God. The main message Bruce would take from this is that individuals have the power to control their own destiny and are responsible for their own happiness without the need of God’s help, given by the film’s key motto “be the miracle.”
Bruce takes this idea to heart, and begins to help people without using God’s powers, and he starts to feel happier overall. He would eventually be visited by Grace’s sister who came to retrieve her property, and told Bruce that Grace would pray for his wellbeing every night. Bruce read her prayers and found that Grace was praying to no longer be in love with Bruce, which broke his heart. He went into the street wishing for God to take back his powers, only to get run over by a truck.
Knocked unconscious, he meets with God in heaven where he will receive his final lesson, which is how to pray. Before this, God reminds Bruce of all the positive traits he has. Bruce would pray that Grace lives a happier life and find a partner who would treat her better than he did, and God revives Bruce. He would go on to rekindle with Grace and is significantly less pessimistic than he was at the start of the film, preaching the message he learned from God to “be the miracle”, and God reveals himself to be the disguised homeless man as the film ends.
In the sequel, Evan Almighty, which takes place from the perspective of Bruce’s rival at work, God aims to help Evan in his endeavor to change the world. In response, God initially hints at the allusion of Noah’s Ark through the unusual changes that Evan undergoes in his life, such as the number 614 constantly appearing in front of him. Although Evan picks up the hints, he dismisses them, before God appears personally and instructs him to build an ark, as this is his opportunity to change this world, which ties in with his message of committing one Act of Random Kindness. The ark would be crucial for an upcoming flood event, and he uses the resources provided to build this ark.
Although the unusual changes in Evan’s life would cost his job in congress, as well as put a strain in his relationship with his wife, he remained motivated to finish the ark. In addition, God would disguise himself as a waiter in a restaurant where he would visit her, to ensure that their bond is preserved. This motivates her to rekindle with Evan and help him build it. As the flood event comes to pass, much of the townspeople hopped on the ark in time, saving their lives as their homes get destroyed. As the flood directs the ark to the Capitol, Evan is able to hold Congressman Long accountable for enabling the flood to occur, as he had cut corners to build the local dam at a cheap price, leading to its failure.
As Evan’s life returns back to normal, he gets his job back and is commended for changing the world for the better, which leads to him being closer to his wife and kids. He is reminded of how one Act of Random Kindness, an abbreviation of ark, is important in doing one’s part in changing the world.
Even though the films are quite clearly comedy movies, they are not without serious moments. Both of the films carry important messages to the audience: if you want a miracle, be the miracle; or change the world through one act of random kindness at a time. Although God has a sense of humor, he emphasizes both of these messages prominently throughout the films, and he is not mischievous as his humor doesn’t lead to anything problematic. This includes the unusual changes that Evan goes through in his life, including his inability to change clothes from his robe and uncontrollable beard growth that cost him his job and marriage. The reason I do not consider this corrupting is because it was a signal that there was a greater good to be considered, and that was getting the ark built and save the lives of his community. He eventually regained his job and his wife took him back, and became closer than before, so there was clearly no malice in his action.
He is also not to blame for the flood occurring to begin with, as that responsibility goes towards Congressman Long for cost-cutting the dam’s budget and leading to its failure. It is arguable that he could have stopped it and prevented the homes from being destroyed, but Long would most likely have gotten away with his greed, and continued to do so in congress, inevitably leading to some damage occurring one way or another. He has made it clear that he cannot interfere with free will. In addition, God gave Evan advanced notice that the flood would occur, even telling him a date when it would most likely happen. No lives are lost as a result of the flood, and the reparation of the damage arguably could lead to the local community coming closer together.
God’s admirable standard is not so much about saving lives or defeating bad guys, but about making Bruce and Evan into better people, and protecting bonds with their loved ones. Some might argue that his heroism is standard, but the admirable standard of the series is quite low to begin with, and his extensive time spent with Bruce and Evan was pivotal in changing their lives, which also leads to changing the world for the better. This takes into consideration that both of these people are two individuals in a world of billions, and he still chose to spend time in giving them important lessons. With that said, it makes him very resourceful and he uses the time spent with them very efficiently, through his very sympathetic and fatherly nature, reflected through his patience and tolerance with a hot-headed Bruce. As such, I am confident he meets the admirable standard.
I would give this a yes.