My Name is Bruce
MY NAME IS BRUCE
My Name is Bruce will be playing at the Landmark Gateway Theater starting Wednesday, November 19th. Showings at 1:00pm, 3:15pm, 5:30pm, 7:45pm, 9:50pm, and Midnight.
Bruce will be holding a live Q&A after the 7:45pm and 9:50pm showings, although according to the theater’s website those showings may already be sold out. Please call for details.
When I started writing this review, I realized I was in trouble. Explaining who Bruce Campbell is, to someone who’s unfamiliar with his work, is a little like explaining colors to a blind person. You can give a good approximation, but in the end you can never truly be sure that they understand your burning lust what colors look like. So I enlisted the help of my college buddy Chaz, who perfectly straddles the line between “B-movie nerd” and “a man that girls actually want to talk to.”
Chaz: “No one’s going to care about Bruce Campbell if they aren’t familiar with any of his work. Just naming off movies that he’s been in will elicit a what the fuck reaction”
Me: Okay how about this: Bruce Campbell, who rose to fame in movies like Evil Dead 1 and 2, Army of Darkness, and Bubba Ho-Tep, and is currently in the hit USA show Burn Notice, stars in this movie as Bruce Campbell, who sunk to infamy in movies like Moontrap, Assault on Dome 4, and The Man With the Screaming Brain.
Chaz: “It’s probably not even worth trying… you should just assume the audience is mildly familiar with him.”
Thanks to Cracked for allowing me to steal this image even though
I’ve never purchased a single copy of their magazine and don’t intend to.
Bruce Campbell is something of a non-controversial, yet polarizing figure. People have either heard of him and like him, or have not heard of him and prefer going on dates and drinking beer underneath the bleachers. Yes I’m talking about you Amber from High School, did you think I’d forget about how you treated me?? Well nice try. This review is dedicated to you and your stupid breasts. Try turning down my LAN party invitation now that I’m a big-time internet writer, you cheerleading sucker!
Click chart for larger version.
High School crush #32: File photo.
There seem to be very few people who are both aware of Bruce Campbell, and also dislike him. Unfortunately, these people tend to skew into the socioeconomic class of “movie reviewers.”
The direct result of this is that Bruce Campbell has had many small parts in blockbuster movies, and many large parts in low-budget movies. The indirect result of this is that Bruce Campbell has become a cult actor, known for his acting dexterity, sense of humor, and overall good looks. Bruce Campbell is, basically, what every pathetic horror movie nerd wishes he could be.
So it should come as no surprise that when I, a pathetic horror movie nerd, was informed that Mr. Campbell’s new movie My Name is Bruce would have a large-screen showing in Columbus, I got excited.
While most PR firm employees don’t “appreciate” drunken 2am emails containing nothing but a string of thinly-veiled threats against their pets, the professionals at The Owens Group knew what was good for them and after a few hours discussing the situation with the FBI, sent me a screener for the film.
Some of my more clever enemies have no doubt already identified the major weakness in this review. If I’m excited about the movie, and I have a crush on the actor/writer/director, there’s no way I can give the movie an honest review, correct?
But like Josef “Comrade Card Catalog” himself, I am impervious to any such accusations. My twisted childhood and overall refusal to deal with my internal issues have led to my psyche being less like an M&M and more like an Everlasting Gobstopper. Beneath my cool veneer of professionalism is a layer of hopeless idol worship for Bruce Campbell, certainly.
Bruce Campbell, folks.
But buried just under that is a seething river of jealousy. Under that is the feeling that I’m not that great anyway, so any jealousy is foolish and unfounded. But supporting that is a mantle of ever-shifting hexagonal basalt pillars, which supposedly represent my self-hatred, blamed on everything external to myself. And then below that is… well, look, let’s just say that the situation is extremely complicated. So you can either choose to believe that I am a very nice person at heart. Or you can choose to take my word for it, and accept that my heart is actually a withered leather bag. My heart contains not blood, but a motley collection of marbles and pennies.
Look, my point is that eventually, I’m the one writing the review, and I tend to be honest about the overall quality of the product.
And now that I’ve made both the PR firm and Dark Horse Indie Films nervous, on with the review!!
Special thanks to Louis Vuitton for designing a special piece in honor of this review.
I’d like to start this section with the caveat that the story of this film is neither particularly original, nor water-tight. However, it’s not meant to be. In this case (as with other films starring Mr. Campbell), the plot only serves as a rickety scaffolding, the chicken wire beneath the plaster skin of an extremely creepy rabbit statue.
Criticisms about the story are thus fairly useless. What you have to focus on is whether or not the individual scenes and gags, propped up by the story, are entertaining. And I’ll get to that in a bit.
But first, I’d feel a bit weird if I didn’t at least give the plot a passing explanation, so here it is. A small town in California is being menaced by the vengeful spirit of an ancient Chinese general/God of war. This spirit was summoned to protect the souls of Chinese miners who died in a cave-in during the town’s early gold rush history. However, thanks to some goth kids kicking over gravestones, vengeful Guan Di has risen from beyond the veil to seek vengeance on the descendants who treated his charges with such scorn.
That’s right, it’s basically The Fog. But keep reading.
In order to stop Guan Di, one of the town’s few remaining youth decides to seek out his hero, and the only one who has a proven track record of defeating supernatural enemies: Bruce Campbell.
That’s right, it’s basically The Three Amigos/Galaxy Quest. But keep reading.
The element that makes this film different from any of its predecessors is that Bruce Campbell plays himself. Not as a thinly-veiled reference, not as an overblown charicature, but himself as seen through the eyes of his detractors. His depiction of himself is cruel, cutting, and ultimately hilarious.
Bruce Campbell is a failure writ large; an angry and alcoholic movie actor who wonders what has gone wrong with his life. (Hello Walker, let me know if that sentence brings in a lot of Google hits.) His ex-wife, his agent, the news media, and his dog all hold a combined respect for him that hovers somewhere between “schadenfreude” and “disdain.” His fans are pathetic, his prospects are dim, and he spends his time alternating between degrading his coworkers and drinking cheap whiskey in his decrepit mobile home.
Alright, come on. How many of us can honestly say that we’ve never done exactly this?
So, of course, he leaps at the chance to play the hero and take on Guan Di. Except that he doesn’t realize that Guan Di is real. And the townspeople don’t realize that he’s full of shit.
Slot in jokes, and hilarity ensues. Ho-hum.
Honestly, overall, the plot isn’t that great. Nor is it that original, as Bruce himself admits. But it serves its purpose: Driving opportunities for gags.
IV. I RAN OUT OF SECTION TITLES
Now about those gags. Are they funny? If not, then this whole project takes on an unshakable air of sadness. The movie took on a fairly unchallenging plot kernel because it has the advantage of already being largely pre-written. So if the rest of the time was spent working on the jokes, and the jokes are rubbish, then the movie is utterly without merit.
Fortunately, the jokes that are slotted in are funny. Not all of them, of course, but more than enough to make it worth watching.
The more you know about Bruce Campbell’s life, the more you’ll find yourself enjoying the movie. Subtle jokes whizz by, with a frequency and accuracy resulting in the feeling that this could be a fanfic written by someone who feels they’ve been personally wronged by Mr. Campbell. However, the humor on a whole is pretty universal and self-explaining. Therefore the major difference between this movie and a fanfic is that the casual viewer will be able to enjoy the movie without reading a long series of Usenet threads.
Bruce Campbell attacks his role with a zeal. His enthusiasm for ragging on himself is so infectious that even if you haven’t read his biography, or even seen any of the many movies/TV shows he’s been in, you’ll find yourself smiling.
The camera work, effects, props, and sets are all what you’d expect from a low-budget movie. But since it’s a low-budget movie making fun of low-budget movies, which is made by a man who knows how to stretch a low budget, it’s effective and it fits.
In the final assessment, this is an enjoyable movie for anyone who’s interested in B-movies, actors, or watching a man pretend to be an asshole.
If you’re a fan of Bruce Campbell, I recommend seeing this movie.
If you’re not a fan of Bruce Campbell, you can probably skip it.
However. If you’re not a fan of Bruce Campbell, but you’re being dragged along by someone who is a fan of Bruce Campbell (probably your boyfriend), then don’t worry. The movie is still pretty fun. You’re not necessarily its target audience, but you’ll probably still enjoy it. And hey–if you don’t, the Landmark Gateway has a bar.
Score: Four Bruce Campbells out of Five, for reverse fan service, angry shouting of improbable curses, and a Brokeback Mountain reference.
Best Joke: The newspaper text during the slideshow Worst Joke: The Brokeback Mountain reference Biggest Groaner: The director of photography's chair is labelled "F. Stop Fitzgerald."