The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Divine comedy falls flat as jokers dial God
- Numbers belong to mortals

The brief appearance of what purports to be God’s telephone number in America’s top-grossing film is trying the patience of people with the same number.

God, played by Morgan Freeman, pages Jim Carrey with the seven-digit number in Bruce Almighty, in which the comic plays a television reporter suddenly endowed with divine powers.

Unfortunately for an elderly couple in South Carolina, a church in North Carolina, a radio station in Colorado and a coloured-glass manufacturer in Florida, their numbers are identical to that flashed on the screen.

Pranksters and seekers of religious guidance have been plaguing them since the film opened last weekend. Most ask for God and then put the phone down but some want to talk.

“No ma’am, this is not God,” Myrtle Hallman, 74, of Hopkins, South Carolina, told one caller. “I can’t tell you he’s not here. I hope he’s here with me but this is the Hallman residence and we’re just plain old human beings.”

“You know the best way to talk to God' Just get down on your knees and talk to him. Tell him whatever you want to say.”

“They were all hang-ups except one who said something about God and laughed,” the Rev. Bruce MacInnes, pastor of Turner’s Chapel in Sanford, North Carolina, said of the calls.

Most Hollywood films start numbers dialled on screen with the digits 555 — a non-existent area code — to avoid precisely such confusion. But for some reason Universal Studios, which took £52 million in the film’s first weekend, chose not to. “What am I to do'” Dawn Jenkins, who produces coloured glass in Pinellas Park, Florida, complained on an internet forum. “I emailed Universal Studios about this issue. I think I want payment.”

Bruce Almighty reigned at the box office in its opening weekend, taking in $86.4 million and easily surpassing The Matrix Reloaded as the number one movie of the weekend in North America. Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co, characterised the performance of Bruce Almighty as a “definite surprise.”

The comedy stars Jim Carrey as a regular guy who receives the powers of God after complaining too much about life. Before getting his comeuppance, Bruce uses the abilities to look up women’s dresses, torment his work rival and teach his dog to use the toilet.

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