The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Seems that this past weekend's box-office-buster, Bruce Almighty, contains some numerological religious theory--in the form of a phone number. Seems that part of the story has His phone number appearing on a beeper readout. Despite the lack of an area code, the number was onscreen long enough that a number of viewers decided to test the number by dialing it up in their local areas. The real-life people on the other end of those numbers are, understandably, not very amused.

All day long, I've talked to people who've remarked about how funny the whole situation is. Each time, I retorted how it is indeed funny, especially since it wasn't happening to me.

I'd like to think that everyone calling those numbers were doing it on a lark, just to see if there was something unusual awaiting them. However, I have underestimated the stupidity of the mass populace before. As pathetic as it is, I'm sure a couple of people out there dialed up and somehow thought they really were going to talk to God.

The film industry has used real phone numbers in movies for decades, sometimes as a gimmick to boost interest. In the 1999 movie Magnolia, a telephone number shown on infomercials within the movie led callers to a recording of star Tom Cruise's voice.

I think the studio flubbed this opportunity for Bruce Almighty. They should've accounted for this reaction (perhaps they did?), and obtained a toll-free number which would have had some kind of marketing pitch on it. Here's a thought: They should do just that for the home video version--replace the phone number in the theatrical release with a new number. Great idea, huh?