Oh, Bruce Campbell. Hero to geeks around the world, no man has been so revered, so inundated with fanboys. Women want him, and men do too. It’s no surprise that people have been critical of most of his most recent output- with films like Alien Apocalypse and The Love Bug under his belt, most wondered why he wasn’t doing more work on par with films like Bubba Ho-Tep. He is a great actor… he just really likes to ham it up.
My Name is Bruce is proof of that. Directed by the Chin himself and conceived as a love letter to his rabid fans, the film stars Bruce Campbell as himself… and not in an entirely flattering light.
Here Bruce is tired of where he’s at in life. Stuck making a crappy scifi movie and constantly harassed by fans, the man lives in a trailer with his dog and hundreds of bottles of booze. He’s recently divorced with an ex who has taken all his money, and his agent isn’t doing much to help him out of his dilemma. Meanwhile, in a town called Gold Lick not too far away, a couple of teens accidentally unreash… excuse me, unleash, the Chinese God of War and lover of bean curd, Guan-Di. What’s he doing there? He’s there to protect hundreds of dead Chinese goldminers that died in a collapse years ago. Guan-Distarts going around decapitating everyone with wide eyes in town.
The one surviving kid happens to be a massive Bruce Campbell dork, and so decides to head on over to his hero’s house to get him to come stop the demon. After all, who has more more experience killing demons than Ash? Bruce of course objects, but is soon “convinced” (ie, kidnapped) and brought to the town, where they all revere him as the chosen one. Bruce thinks that this is his birthday gift from his agent (who promised him something incredible) and goes along with the townsfolk, thinking they’re all actors and this is all a big joke. He soon finds out that it isn’t. Hilarity ensues.
But the main problem with My Name is Bruce is that while it’s obviously a B-movie, it’s not one of the better ones. It’s pretty ironic that in attempting to lampoon all of his previous crappy films, Bruce has made his own Scifi Channel original.
Don’t get me wrong- you will have fun with this one. Campbell as usual is the best part of the proceedings, hysterical and absolutely on point. He still loves his Three Stooges shtick, and has no qualms about getting slapped around or knocked down for laughs, and he throws out more than a couple of classic one-liners. His character’s a drunk and a slob but still somehow gets the ladies (in this case, the incredibly sexy Grace Thorsen) because he’s as loveable as ever.
The rest of the cast is hit or miss. There are a few memorable characters (like the redneck couple who can’t quit each other) but for the most part this is amateur hour. Even Ted Raimi falls flat on a few occasions in his many roles. The self depreciating humor works well, but there’s only so many jokes about Campbell’s filmography that you can take before it starts getting stale.
That’s the problem with this one. While hardcore Campbellites will undoubtedly eat it up, anyone not familiar with his work will get nothing out of this. More casual fans will admire it but see through the one-note joke, and soon wish there was more substance to it.
But even though the film’s somewhat forgettable it’s still a lot of fun, and deserves to be seen in a theater with a group of like-minded geeks. This is a movie that will not play nearly as well at home, so if the movie’s touring near you these next few weeks (there’s a full list of theaters here) don’t let it pass you by.