Pros: Hilarious homage to Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead movies
Cons: Not much of a movie, more of a tongue in cheek joke
If your small town just unleashed an ancient Chinese God, who would you call? Stop! Who said Ghostbusters? No, no, no. You’d call the baddest zombie/demon killing shotgun/chainsaw wielding B-movie hero of all time. Unless you’ve been living in isolation for the last 20 years, living in some hick town or are from the medieval ages, you’d know that I’m talking about the legendary Bruce Campbell. You know Ash, the guy from the Evil Dead movies, Bubba Ho-tep and a few straight to video titles. Scratch that, a lot of straight to video titles.
There’s definitely a draw to Bruce Campbell that’s undeniable. He’s worked with Sam Raimi 11 times and the Coen Brothers 4 times. Several of his roles have been cameos, and you can bet that his cult following which has grown to Trekkie like status can quote every one of them. Essentially he’s the Groucho Marx or Charlie Chaplin of his genre. If there’s an award for cult monster movies (and Mike Bracken might tell me there is) they’d call it a “Bruce.” Many of his movies are bad but sell on his name and persona alone. And you know that nobody delivers an over clichéd wise crack like Bruce Campbell. There’s something indelible about the way he delivers, “Let’s get one thing straight, Mr. Campbell makes soup, call me Bruce.”
My Name is Bruce is directed, co-produced by and stars Campbell himself, playing himself. He’s had a few directorial efforts, most notably 2005’s Man with the Screaming Brain. It was an unremarkable effort, so by playing a parody of himself and paying homage to his cult status Campbell has probably caught a nice little niche here. And that’s essentially what My Name is Bruce is. We find him on the set of “Cavealien 2” (as far as I’m aware there wasn’t a prequel), treating his low budget castmates with the same contempt as the “primates” in Army of Darkness. He’s equally dismissive of his irritating unshowered fans, dismayed by his agent’s (long time friend Ted Raimi) inability to find him any real work, drives a beat up Mazda and lives in a trailer, alone with his dog. His hobbies appear to be the porn mags stuffed in his mailbox, drinking cheap hooch and calling his ex-wife at 3 in the morning.
When Gold Lick, Oregon turns into the scene of a Scooby Doo plot, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) a teenage obsessed “Brucie” figures that the best way to fight this demon is to kidnap his screen idol, throw him in the trunk of his car and let him do duel the way he has so many times in the past. Campbell, figuring this is all some practical joke by his agent, decides to go along with the game, no doubt won over by endless free food and booze. Another major attraction is Jeff’s hot mom (Grace Thorsen). As Campbell comments, she seems a little young to be a mom, but after all, “a milf’s a milf.”
In many ways My Name is Bruce is the typical Bruce Campbell straight to DVD low budget monster fighting flick. What makes it different and extremely funny however is Campbell’s seedy parody of himself. You wouldn’t expect the real life Campbell to be as condescending as he is in his movies, but essentially he brings his on screen persona into his real version of his self. I’m also pretty sure that Campbell lives a more comfortable life than the one he depicts here, one that finds him scrambling around his trailer for a bottle, then consuming the remains of what he poured into the dog’s dish. Of course it ends with a signature crazy possessed look and defeated cries of “nooooo.”
It’s really the homage to the on screen Campbell and his movies, with a great emphasis on Army of Darkness (the silliest of the Evil Dead trilogy) that makes this movie work. You sense that Campbell spends a life time repeating his famous one-liners to titillate his fans and in My Name is Bruce he often mistakes that for charm. Nothing gave me a better laugh than when he tells a young woman, “if you’re lucky later, maybe I’ll let you play with my Boom stick.” Many of the one liners are obvious and funny in their cheesiness. Often the laughs will only be recognized by the most avid of fans such as when “I'd have kidnapped that Jake character from Evil Dead 2” is uttered by the guy that played that Jake character in Evil Dead 2 and “My money'd have been on that blacksmith from Army of Darkness.” is uttered by, you guessed it.
As a movie My Name is Bruce really isn’t very good. If you’ve never heard of Bruce Campbell and just happened to pick up this movie you’d probably understand very little, and realize that the plot is completely pointless. The plot that there is, is really just lifted from Galaxy Quest, where a pseudo-Star Trek acting crew are dragged off to fight aliens from outer space. Fans of Bruce Campbell of course will find plenty to enjoy. It’s his wise cracks, his personality and the homages to his movies that make My Name is Bruce extremely funny and entertaining. I’d only class myself as an average Campbell fan. I love the Evil Dead movies, loved Bubba Ho-tep and his cameos in each of the Spiderman movies. I’ve even found a couple of his Sci-Fi channel airings mildly amusing. Personally I thought My Name is Bruce is great and with the bulk of the material coming from the Evil Dead movies would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of those. Of course if you don’t know who Bruce Campbell is, go watch Evil Dead II or Army of Darkness already.
Verdict: 4 Stars or 1 Star whichever way you look at it. I’m a 4 Star guy.