Early in the movie, Bruce gets overwhelmed by the huge number of prayers he receives (in the millions). As it later turns out, he's only given control of one city. So where did all those prayers come from?
Hearing the prayers of one city, not having control over one city. His powers could still affect what was outside the city. For example, the moon and the stars.
One city does have millions of inhabitants, and people are shown praying before their meals, so you can roughly multiply that by three. Then there's the lots of lottery related prayers, many made probably at the lottery itself. It's not hard to get a number that high.
Not to mention if you consider any time someone wishes internally for something, it may qualify as a prayer, since they're associating it to a higher power and in this world, God is well, God. So every time someone is like "Please let me make enough to pay rent this week" or "God someone make this annoying kid go away" may count as a prayer.
Wow, that's some grade-A Nightmare Fuel when you really think about it. Just imagine some of the "prayers" people make without realizing it. "God, I hope that asshole gets cancer!" "God, somebody kill that bastard who plays loud music in the middle of the night!"
If Bruce has all the powers of God, why doesn't he just make a program on his prayer computer that answers prayers according to God's wisdom? Bam! He does God's job and gets to have fun as well.
Because he wasn't smart enough to think of it.
Which ironically, God knew.
Thank you! With the power of God he could assign a part of his own brain to do it constantly. Presumeably that's how the big G does it.
Although if he had a part of his brain doing it automatically, he'd probably end up saying yes to all of them anyway, which is what he was doing even before he specifically entered "yes to all". But you're right, he could have just made a program answer according to God's wisdom. Hell, most of the problems Bruce faced in the movie could have been solved with his powers, but he was just too stupid to think about it.
If Bruce's world is similar to our own, God's track record isn't all that impressive since people are constantly struggling and fighting each other. So, modeling anything after "God's wisdom" is not necessarily a smart idea. Not to mention that it's quite likely that his powers were limited and he wasn't exposed to God's widsom.
The scene may have been meant as a subtle Aesop explaining or rationalizing the reason why God doesn't answer everyone's prayers. This would have been negated if he'd come up with such a program. It might have worked better if he had made the special program and the writers had come up with a good reason why such a thing either couldn't work or would cause more problems than it solves. (And, of course, the aforementioned Aesop comes in to play anyway when everyone wins the lottery.)
Actually, "yes" isn't the only answer to a prayer. The teaching is that all prayers are answered; the answer is just sometimes "not yet," or "no".
That would defeat the entire purpose. The plot starts because Bruce said God was doing a bad job, and God gave him those powers to prove just how difficult it actually is. If he were to grant them automatically them based on God's wisdom (and if God would had allowed that), it would defeat the entire reason he was allowed omniscience/omnipotence - especially since in a monotheistic universe God can't just past it out to another god.
Really the question is "Why did Bruce even bother answering the prayers at all?" The problem was the voices in his head, and once he'd turned them into e-mails, he no longer had any reason to care about them. He could simply have ignored them, which he seemed to want to do.
Because he was trying to prove he could be better at being God.
How does, for instance, manipulating someone's body like a puppet to make a fool of him on television not fall under the umbrella of "interfering with free will"?
Bruce's powers aren't limited in interfering with people's lives. If they were then we wouldn't have much of a movie. Bruce wasn't altering the anchorman's mind or personality, Bruce was simply mucking around with his vocal chords —- a purely physical act, like the difference between telekinesis and mind-control. The anchorman was still free to feel however he wanted about the situation, and everyone else viewing was free to judge him however they wanted. Bruce couldn't just make everyone viewing hate the anchorman, but he could work towards it. On a darker note, there are plenty of alternatives that Bruce could have taken to get Jennifer Aniston's character to love him. He could have erased her memory of what he did to displease her (maybe this counts as a violation, I don't know.) and she would still retain her free-will. Bruce couldn't make Jennifer Aniston's character love him, but he could probably make her into a puppet, or stimulate certain glands to make her react to him, but it wouldn't be love obviously, and Bruce would be a rapist for doing so. She would still have her free-will in any case, as her mind wouldn't be controlled but her body would be. He could have erased everyone else in existence, leaving only himself and her in the world. He could have also created a complete copy of her, perfect in every respect, and still the original would have retained her free-will. I doubt the copy would count as someone whose free-will was being violated.
He was taking away someone's free agency (losing complete control over his body directly in part to Bruce's actions), so he was arguably violating the anchorman's free will. Yes, he couldn't do the mind control-type free will with Jennifer Aniston's character, but that doesn't negate what happened with the anchorman. The entire concept of free will is pretty murky anyway. How does one have free will if they have certain mental disorders, for example? How does one have free will if one can be physically harmed by another person? Also, notice that free will is defined by God. How does one have full free will if one is purposefully limited compared to God? And let's not get into God revealing himself to the world via the Judeo-Christian religions or the "Believe in me or burn" type of Christianity which both raise a ton of questions about the function of free will.
There is also the fact that the dictionary defines "free will" as free and independent choice or voluntary decision. So yes, that scene was pretty much a plot hole.
If the copy retained free will, it'd hate him as well.
Bruce could get around that by not giving it free-will in the first place. Make it a perfect copy in every other way, and simply give it the illusion of free will, where it behaves exactly like the original Grace, but he could change the copy's mind, since it doesn't have free-will.
Then it's a sex-bot, not a person. Even Bruce wouldn't be shallow enough for that.
Not really. It would still behave exactly as the normal Grace would, just not have true free will. It wouldn't be some mindless shell which walked around saying "I live to please you master", it'd be a normal woman, with normal behavior. The only difference being that Bruce would have been able to alter her mind if he wanted to. And he clearly WAS shallow enough for that, since that's essentially what he was trying to do when he tried to force her to love him.
It's quite simple, you can rape someone, but you can't force them to like/love it, that's their free will.
Full-scale riots because of meager lottery winnings. What the hell? First of all, most lottery players usually win nothing at all, and somehow it doesn't incite riots. Why the hell here? People couldn't even lose money on it, since, obviously, their winnings amounted to the price of the ticket (if I understand the concept of lottery right). Sure, they'd think it was bizzare, but riots? Is lottery such a Serious Business?
There's a big difference between, "Oh, I didn't win." and "Holy shit! I WON! I WON! I GET TO QUIT THIS JOB AND LIVE OFF MY MILLIONS OF—...Fifteen bucks? Are you shitting me?"
Aren't there more prizes besides a single jackpot?
Not for the same number.
So did he keep his powers at the end? He's shown not using them anymore, but he didn't come into a situation where he would (with his new aesop wisdom). And there was no official renouncing of powers onscreen. So, does he have them or not?
There is official renouncing of powers onscreen. When Bruce is walking in the rain, falls to his knees, and says, "I don't want to be God. I want you to decide what's right for me!" Immediately after, he is hit by the truck and when he wakes up in hospital, he no longer has God's powers.
That doesn't necessarily mean that Bruce lost his powers then, he simply said that he didn't want them anymore. God could have just said "Tough, you're keeping them". Perhaps Bruce just chose not to use them. Unlikely, but possible.
How exactly did everyone win the lottery? Sure, everyone prayed for it, but it's practically impossible that everyone bet on the same numbers, and the winning numbers are openly announced. Was the huge amount of reality altering needed to make this work — either retroactively changing the number that was bet for everyone, or somehow changing the numbers on-the-fly each time someone came to get the prize — actually performed?
Maybe everyone entered a different lottery, or the powers RetConned history so everyone chose the same numbers.
I think the numbers were all different, but everyone sees the different numbers as the winning number, no matter who it is or who says it. The numbers really aren't the same, just everyone's perceptions about the lottery winnings are altered. You have a different number, you hear the announcer say the winning number and you hear it as your own. You bring it in and the announcer sees your different number as the winning number (whatever it is), and he says the winning number is such and such, and you hear that it is the number you put in. If the winning number is 986544, and your number is 888145, you hear that the winning number as 888145. The announcer sees the 888145 as 986544, vice versa.
That wouldn't work at all, because the lottery companies are paying out to everyone. If there was only one actual winning number, everyone else who "won" would just have their claim dismissed the second it became clear that the number on their ticket was different from the number actually chosen.
What doesn't work about that? There is one true winning lottery number, everyone has a different number, but they are all seeing and hearing one number, the one that person thinks is the winning number. One person says "Did you hear? The winning number is 986544." Another person hears the first person say "Did you hear? The winning number is 888145." The second person says "OMG I won." The first person says "Really, your winning number is 986544." The second person hears "Really, your winning number is 888145?" The second person says "Yeah, my number is 888145." The first person hears the second person say "Yeah, my number is 986544." He holds out his lottery ticket and the first person reads the 888145 printed on it as 986544. "Wow, you won." the first person says. There's one real number, but every person is perceiving it as the number that they think is the winning number. This is mind-twisting and possibly a form of mind altering en masse, but hey Bruce had the powers of God.
Except that doesn't get passed the lottery runners, is tons more complicated when it comes to working things out legally, and requires messing a lot more with peoples' minds than simply changing their lottery tickets does. Occam's razor, dude.
Why complicatte stuff? Assume he either retcons an error in the computer in charge making it print the same number over and over, or if it is a "Scratch and Win" lottery, simply edit in a million or two on each.
There are lotteries where you choose a few out of many numbers, and the more of them match with the ones randomly selected later, the more you win, with the main prize being given for having all numbers correct. In such a lottery, it would be pretty simple for Bruce's power to retcon chosen numbers of any player he chose to help.
It couldn't possibly be a "Scratch and Win" type lottery. The way those games work is the gaming organization figures out how much money they want to give away and they only print enough winning tickets to equal that amount. So if the maximum win is $1 million and the gaming organization wants to give away $5 million, they'll only print 5 winning tickets. If more than five winning tickets show up they would immediately suspect counterfeiting.
He is god, if he wanted, the winning number could be fish
It's not clear how long he has his powers for; if he set up the program before anyone who prayed for a win had chosen their numbers, its perfectly possible that they all picked the same.
Have you people forgotten that this is the power of GOD we're talking about?
Not forgotten; just wondering about the means.
When Grace left him, why did Bruce not use his powers to get her back? He could easily have made her forget the kiss with Susan and anything else she disapproved of. Or he could have done something like "Please take me back. You'll find it really PLEASURABLE!". That's something that really bugged me. How can she bared to dump him when (presumably off-screen to keep the rating down) every other conversation results in an intense spontaneous orgasm. That's another thing; did Grace never get a bit suspicious about some of the things Bruce was doing? Did she never say "Bruce, why is it that I always have an orgasm every time you say "pleasure" to me?" That, coupled with some of the other stuff (e.g. Sam's toilet training) should surely have made Grace think that Bruce had some magical powers.
First of all he wasn't giving her orgasm, that would be stupid, if she can have orgasms on her own without doing anything why would she need Bruce, and wouldn't she be too tired and numb to do much after so many. He was enhancing her biological sexual urge, that means he also couldn't had implanted the idea of you'll find pleasure in taking me back, that's invasion of free will.
I meant more that in the "pleasure" scene (And probably many more times off screen) Bruce made Grace have orgasms simply by saying "Pleasure" and variants of it to her. Did she not figure out the link between having orgasms and Bruce saying pleasure? And by saying "Take me back it'll be pleasurable" I meant that Bruce could simply have given her an orgasm so powerful right there as she was storming out that she wouldn't WANT to leave Bruce, because she'd feel so good.
Wait, interpersonal relationships work like that? All I've got to do to keep a woman is to essentially rape her into submission? HOT DAMN!
With regard to the original question, he actually TRIED that (when he sticks his hand out at her at the daycare and asks "How do you feel now?" and she asks if he's drunk). He was trying to make her feel "pleasure" like before. The reason it didn't work is that that time she didn't want it to happen, which meant it would violate the "messing with free will" rule. The first time, she actually wanted him to pleasure her (she was getting ready to have sex with him, after all) so the orgasm trick worked.
Really? I never got that impression. I've always assumed that "How do you feel now?" was more referring to to "How do you feel ABOUT ME now?", so that was when he started trying to make Grace love him. Also, the restriction was that he couldn't mess with free-will. Free-will is things that we have conscious control of. We can control desire to feel pleasure and have orgasms, but we can't control when we sneeze or orgasm. After all, how many times have you orgasmed just from a desire to? Or sneezed for that matter? Bruce had complete control over Grace's physical pleasure and orgasms, because they are sub-conscious things that, much like sneezing, we can't control, and so don't fall under free-will. Bruce could have made Grace have millions of orgasms right there in the day-care if he'd wanted to, but he couldn't have forced her to enjoy them, since enjoyment of something is free-will.
Also, as I mentioned originally, this telekinetic orgasm-giving likely wasn't a one-off occurance, but a regular thing, likely happening every day. After all, if you had the powers of God, can you honestly say that you wouldn't use them to make you and your partner experience lots and lots of orgasms whenever you wanted? I know that's what I'd do. They were likely having a lot of sex, since Bruce would have been keen to use his powers to enhance it, and Grace would have been keen to experience some more of these incredible pleasuring skills that Bruce had suddenly aquired. Even the writers seemed to realise this, as in an early draft of the script which can be read online, Grace says the line "Bruce, I feel like our relationship is becoming all about sex". This seems perfectly natural, as realistically, they would probably be spending most of their free time having sex, made infinitely more pleasurable by Bruce's powers. What I was getting at, it that this sex was likely so good, that Grace wouldn't want to leave Bruce, because no more Bruce=no more "heavenly" sex. Even when she did leave him, it was likely only a matter of time before she took him back simply because she needed Bruce to satisfy her. It does also make you wonder what happened when Bruce lost his powers, and they were back to normal, mortal sex. After what they'd likely been experiencing while Bruce was God, no mortal sex would be likely to ever satisfy them again.
Are you saying that as long as you have great sex with someone, you should forgive them everything they do?
No, I'm just saying that when you're having sex with God, it would likely be so good that Grace wouldn't be able to bare not having it when she was apart from Bruce. "Heavenly" probably doesn't even come close to describing it, and when you've had that, it's pretty hard to let go of it.
In answer to the original question: interfering with another person's memory may or may not fall into the 'interference with free will' clause... but one of the few nice-guy qualities Bruce ever shows is a genuine devotion to Grace. Fiddling with her brain would have meant regarding her as a puppet to be modified according to his desire, something that he was morally opposed to.
Well it probably wouldn't be messing with free-will, since what we remember isn't exactly optional, which is basically what free-will is, though I get what you're saying about not wanting to mess with Grace's mind. But surely when he tried to make her love him, that was trying to mess with her mind? He can't be that opposed to it.
So Grace believes in God (apparently the the Judeo-Christian one, but it's not very clear) so why is she's seen giving Bruce Buddhist prayer beads?
Christians use them, too. In fact, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims also use beads as a prayer tool. It's not unique to Buddhism.
Maybe, but the ones she gives him are Buddhist rather than Christian (like a Rosary, Prayer Rope, or even Pearls of Life).
She says a kid in her class made them and gave them to her. It's partly "Have some faith, Bruce", partly "See how cute this is and cheer up, Bruce", and partly "Children are so adorable and I'd kind of like to have a couple, Bruce".
Buddhist philosophy isn't necessarily incompatible with Christianity, or at least some versions of the two aren't.
Bruce first starts hearing the prayers when he wakes up after his first night of being God. Going by God's "You've had my powers for little over a week now" line, it takes Bruce a full week to ask God what the voices are. I can't be the only one who finds it a tad unrealistic that he ignored them for a full week. Maybe a day or so at most, but once he worked out that he couldn't just will them away, surely he'd think that something was up, and he should maybe ask God about it?
Or God simply chose not to let him hear them until then, not wanting to freak him out right away, or to get used to his powers before taking on bigger assignments.
But Bruce started hearing the prayers after his first night, when he wakes up after the sex scene. It took Bruce a full week before he actually found out that they were prayers, and that was only because God told him. It's very unrealistic that in that time Bruce didn't think to ask God about the voices.
How would he ask Him? God's not physically manifesting alongside him the entire time waiting for questions. Sure, He's always there, but Bruce doesn't think to turn to Him for answers or guidance... which is part of the point of Bruce's character.
Is there an alternate version of the movie? I have it on both VHS and DVD, but I seem to recall a shot in the diner where we actually see the elderly man flee out of the diner in terror after God appears as Bruce is parting his soup, which isn't present on VHS or DVD (even as a deleted scene), yet I seem to recall it clear as day... was I imagining such a shot, or does it only exist on certain prints, like how certain movies actually add scenes when played on certain channels (like how local channels will extended versions of like The Little Rascals or Stuart Little)?