My Name Is Bruce (2007)
By: Mr Intolerance on June 11, 2009  | 
DVD
Image Entertainment (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. English (FHI), Spanish Subtitles. 84 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Bruce Campbell
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Grace Thorsen, Taylor Sharpe, Ted Raimi
Screenplay: Mark Verheiden
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Everyone loves Ash, the callow, self-important blue-collar slob at the heart of the Evil Dead series of films. Actor Bruce Campbell has made a pretty decent living out of that character, playing him three times in some of horror's most important movies, voicing him in three different and highly entertaining PlayStation games and being inked as the character in a range of Dark Horse comics. It seems almost natural that Campbell would therefore cast himself in that role – the cowardly wise-cracking hero – in his directorial sophomore effort, My Name Is Bruce.

Many people would say that Americans have no idea of the notion of irony – Bruce Campbell gives the lie to such an idea. Basically he presents himself as the most feeble, dim-witted and egocentric minor celebrity possible, an alcoholic and abusive ex-spouse, suscribing to low-grade porn, living in a trailer and feeding his dog ("Sam'n'Rob" – a bit of a sly punch at his Evil Dead campadres) whiskey. Having read his autobiography, If Chins Could Kill, and having heard the commentary tracks on The Evil Dead, both by him and by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, as well as having seen his performance many, many, maaaaaaany times as the Deadite-beleagured S-Mart employee, I was ready for self-deprecating humour and having a fulsome stab at his public image as square-jawed (and what a huge fucking jaw it is!) B-movie icon. I got that in spades.

The basic plot is pretty simple: some stupid sexed-up teens have unleashed the Chinese war god Guan-di (also Protector of bean curd; I fuckin' knew there was something dodgy about tofu!) in the town of Gold Lick, and they need a real hero to put him back to rest. Unfortunately, the best they can come up with is Bruce Campbell, z-grade schlock ham-actor, and a Campbell-obsessed emo teen (motherfucker even has a dummy dressed up as Brisco County Jr in his loft) kidnaps him and brings him to town in order to right some wrongs.

Campbell, recently divorced and living in a trailer in the middle of Bumfuck, Nowhere, is trapped in a series of low budget splatter-films (often filmed in Bulgaria), thanks to his sleazy and useless agent, played by Ted Raimi, who unbeknownst to Bruce is also schtupping his ex-wife. So the all-round loser and cuckold gets kidnapped and taken to the town, is greatly feted, feeding his ego wildly, and doesn't quite get the seriousness of the situation (mind you, this is a character we've seen previously drinking hard liquor out of a dog's bowl). Basically Bruce thinks he's being paraded like it's a convention – he hasn't realised the fact that it's all unfortunately for real – Guan-di is indeed upright and killing the righteous, or at least those without the nouse to get the fuck outta the way of his razor-sharp scythe.

There's some blood and gore in this flick, as you would expect from a film featuring Bruce Campbell, but it never goes over the top into splatter-fest territory, a la Braindead, or even Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn. There are one or two moments where you might go, "Uurgh", but generally Campbell's gone for the comedy, rather than the gore and the blood. (He's also gone for a bit of Evil Dead nepotism, have a look and you will find Cheryl from The Evil Dead, Jake from Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, and the blacksmith from Army of Darkness, for example).

Bruce basically gets shamed into being the hero, just as he did in Army of Darkness, and, well, you just have to guess the rest – it's a fair amount of fun (usually at Campbell's expense) without ever being laugh-out-loud hilarious. It kinda would've been nice if the film hadn't been so obvious. He's a hero of mine, and this kind of didn't live up to my probably too high or unrealistic expectations, sadly – a few curve balls would have been cool, along with the more expected or obvious gags.
Video
The picture, being as it's a fairly recent movie, looks great – anamorphically enhanced and in the OAR – I can't imagine how it could look better, unless it was being beamed directly into my brain.
Audio
The 5.1 audio seemed a little redundant, given the film we were watching. Nice to have the option, but totally unnecessary – the 2.0 channel would have sufficed.
Extra Features
There's a feature-length commentary with both director Campbell and producer Mike Richardson to begin with. Campbell is a funny motherfucker at all times, and always worth listening to. You also get, if you got the cover that glistens with different colours when you tilt it (not a lenticular cover), a 24 page comic, which gives you a fair idea of the story, but not all of it, and certainly doesn't give you Campbell's pathetic past. There's also Heart of Dorkness, a documentary about the making of My Name Is Bruce. There are a bunch of references to Coppolla's Heart of Darkness, and some of Campbell's other films (I didn't realise until I watched this that the actress playing Bruce's ex-wife Cheryl, was indeed Cheryl, the first of the zombies in The Evil Dead – go figure!) featured within. There are two other featurettes, Awkward moments with "Kif" (a bit of nothing, really – if you're a Ricky Gervais fan, it's like on-set stuff with Karl Pilkington) and Bruce On... (amusing, but hardly essential). There's also a bunch of stuff to do with the making of Cavealien 2, which is the film Bruce is supposedly making when he's kidnapped in My Name Is Bruce. There's also a whole bunch of galleries – poster art, props art, photos – a trailer for the film, and some other featurettes where Campbell makes himself out to be a total cunt. Funny? You bet. Necessary? No. And just in case you hadn't had enough – there's a trailer for My Name Is Bruce.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Part vanity reel, part horror comedy, part giving-back-to-the-fans love letter, My Name Is Bruce is a noble failure, which is ironic really, as that's how Campbell casts himself in the first place. It's certainly entertaining, but there's definitely something missing – I put the blame solely on the writer. Given that Campbell can pull a mediocre film into the top division through the sheer force of his charisma and "likeable-if-somewhat-cowardly-rogue" persona alone, the material itself must be called into account. I think that if a more mature, less Campbell-awed writer had had a go at this, it would have presented its audience with a more substantial, less fundamentally flawed film. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly gives its viewers a few good laughs at the expense of Campbell's public persona, but it could have been a hell of a lot better.

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