Where’s a hero when you need one? Well don’t look in the direction of B-movie star Bruce Campbell, cause he ain’t got a whole lot for ya except a wandering hand and an insatiable appetite for hamming it up. In “My Name is Bruce”, fan favorite Bruce Campbell of “Evil Dead” fame plays a boozing, trailer trash living, junk car riding, handicap fan abusing, and pee drinking bastard version of himself – a washed up B-movie actor with a whole lot of (smelly) fans, but not a whole lot of anything else, much less prospects in the movie biz. Of course we know better. The real Bruce Campbell is a best-selling author that is adored by fans across the world for classics like the aforementioned “Evil Dead” movies and “Bubba Ho-Tep”. But hey, what would be the fun of portraying that guy, am I right?
Written by Mark Verheiden and directed by Bruce Campbell himself, “My Name is Bruce” follows the down-on-his-luck Bruce Campbell (played by, of course, Bruce Campbell), who is currently shooting a sequel to his sci-fi opus, “Cave Aliens”, when he is abducted from his trailer to assist the small town of Gold Lick in their fight against Guan-Di, the Chinese Demon God of bean curd. The evil entity has a grudge against the town, you see, for a lot of Chinese laborers died working on the town’s gold mine many moons ago, and in order to protect their souls, Guan-Di was summoned. Flash forward to the present day, when a couple of emos unwittingly awaken the angry Chinese demon, which begins to slaughter the residents of Gold Lick lest our hero Bruce Campbell can stop him.
Unfortunately for the townspeople of Gold Lick, Bruce thinks it’s all a gag cooked up by his two-face agent (Ted Raimi, “shemping” it up in multiple roles), and happily goes along with it, if just to get in the sweet, sweet pants of townswoman Kelly Graham (Grace Thorsen). But of course, it all goes wrong when Bruce realizes that the whole thing isn’t the set-up he thought it was, and that Guan-Di is very much real and that halberd of his has taken many a head, and now it wants a taste of Bruce’s. What’s a washed up movie star of cheapie horror movies to do? Well, run away, of course. No, really. Movie Bruce runs away, but not before accidentally shooting a dozen townspeople or so during his cowardly retreat from Guan-Di’s wrath.
Without a doubt, Bruce Campbell acolytes will love the hell out of this movie. You don’t have to know about Campbell’s upbringing in Detroit with “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi to appreciate all the drive-by gags Campbell is throwing at the screen, but it sure helps. In fact, it might actually be funnier watching “My Name is Bruce” with a Bruce Campbell novice, who might not realize that a lot of the more outrageous movie props that appear in the movie are, you know, actually real. Yes, the real Bruce Campbell really did do a couple of movies called “Alien Apocalypse” and “The Man with the Screaming Brain”. Of course, it’s the diehard Bruce Campbell fans who will get a major kick out of the movie, as the film really is covered end-to-end in Bruce Campbell trivia, some made-up, and some not so much. (You can imagine that Real Bruce probably hears the phrase, “Give me some sugar, baby” more than once in a given day, and it must really suck.)
With a title and premise like “My Name is Bruce”, it’s kind of hard to do anything other than an all-out slapstick comedy where beheadings are used for laughs. That’s exactly what the movie does, complete with musical numbers by two guitar-slinging townspeople to fill us in on the details of Guan-Di’s wrath. Okay, so Campbell’s fictional characters have never actually been what you would call a typical hero, so in that respect “My Name is Bruce” doesn’t actually break the mode of what it means to be a typical Bruce Campbell Hero Character. Then again, I’m sure Real Bruce doesn’t live in a trailer in the woods with only his lazy dog for companionship, an old remoteless TV to watch his “stories”, and must rely on rotary phones. Seriously, rotary phones? Who still has rotary phones?
Campbell gets plenty of able assist from Ted Raimi, Sam Raimi’s little brother, and Grace Thorsen makes for a fetching love interest. The rest of the townspeople don’t fare quite as well, except for a couple of unexpected laughs courtesy of two gun-toting “Brokeback Mountain” wannabes. I don’t doubt that Campbell probably adlibbed whole chunks of dialogue and scenes along the way while they were in the middle of shooting. A film with as many winks at the audience as “My Name is Bruce” doesn’t get finalized on the page. As a comedy, “My Name is Bruce” hits’em hard and fast, with jokes aplenty, especially the early ones that poke fun at the man himself. As a horror comedy, it’s what you would expect – a lot of blood, cheap gore, and a villain that is the very definition of “cheap guy in a suit”. You ain’t gonna get scared by this one, but you are liable to laugh your ass off.
“My Name is Bruce” lands on DVD February 10, 2009. If you’re a fan of Campbell, or just horror-comedies in general, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It’s one of the better ones to come down the pipe, and the fact that Campbell, as director, is most vicious on himself in the pursuit of laughs somehow makes it all that much more satisfying.
Bruce Campbell (director) / Mark Verheiden (screenplay)
CAST: Bruce Campbell … Bruce Campbell
Janelle Farber … Kasey
Ted Raimi … Wing
Ellen Sandweiss … Cheryl
Taylor Sharpe … Jeff
Grace Thorsen … Kelly Graham