Saturday, February 7, 2009
MY NAME IS BRUCE (2008) d. Bruce Campbell
Reviewed by Mark Nelson
MY NAME IS BRUCE stars Bruce Campbell as Bruce Campbell, a character not dissimilar to Bruce Campbell. If not THE Bruce Campbell, certainly A Bruce Campbell based on Bruce Campbell, or at least a Bruce Campbell that Bruce Campbell and fans of Bruce Campbell will recognize as resembling an exaggerated version of Bruce Campbell.
The story goes a little something like this: a Cambpell and horror film-obsessed teen in the sleepy Oregon town of Gold Lick knows that there's only one man to call when your town is menaced by an ancient Chinese protector of bean curd with a sharp weapon that's handy for beheading townsfolk -- none other that the star of CONGO, ALIEN APOCALYPSE and SERVING SARA (not to mention the EVIL DEAD films and BUBBA HO-TEP), Bruce Campbell. Trouble is, he's not quite the hero in reality that his films make him out to be. Actually, he's kind of a drunken, skirt-chasing, foul-mouthed lout, a cad and a masher, if you will. Campbell heeds the teen's call, believing it to be an elaborate prank played on him by his agent (Ted Raimi), only to find the threat all too real. Will the real Bruce Campbell stand up and be counted, or be counted on turning tail and running away?
While the premise of MY NAME IS BRUCE is essentially the same as THREE AMIGOS (film stars are called to a backwoods town by citizens who believe them to be the heroes they portray onscreen to save the town, the stars believe the danger to be a publicity stunt, find out its real, then summon up whatever courage they have to fight the foe and save the day) , Campbell fans should eat this up. He pushes his image as a smart-mouthed, washed-up B-movie star to the nth degree, with hilarious results. Sort of like Ash with a perpetual hang-over and case of priapism. I do wonder if those who aren't fans of Bruce Campbell would get as much out of it, as so much of the film's humor is based on a spoofing of his image and filmography. For those who dig he who was the Jack of All Trades, however, it's an absolute blast.
The film itself plays very much like the early Sam Raimi and Josh Becker's Super-8mm films, with a goofy Three Stooges-infused sense of "anything goes", mixed with the out and out gore of EVIL DEAD 2. The gore here, while graphic, comes off as cartoony and over-the-top, as it's generally surrounded by silliness. The cast is made up primarily of local Oregon stage actors who handle their roles as simple townsfolk well (Grace Thorsen as the mother of the superfan teen and target of Campbell's amorous intentions is a particular stand-out, balancing her role's levels of humor, heart and hubba with the greatest of ease), along with EVIL DEAD series alumni Ellen Sandweiss, Ted Raimi (playing three very diverse and silly roles), Dan Hicks and Tim Quill. Location filming took place in and around Campbell's Oregon property, and appropriately takes Bruce and company within the woods once again for a return to the type of setting that launched his career, only without any desolate cabins or evil books inked in blood.
As can be expected of most Campbell productions, the DVD of MY NAME IS BRUCE is loaded with supplements that bring fans more goofy Campbell charm, as well as plenty of nuts-and-bolts behind-the-scenes information. It's quite impressive to see how much production value was brought to the screen simply by utilizing the local Oregon resources at Campbell's disposal, and made me appreciate the film all the more. Extras include an audio commentary by Bruce Campbell and producer Mike Richardson, "Heart of Dorkness: The making of MY NAME IS BRUCE" hour-long documentary, five featurettes, Poster art gallery, props art gallery, photo gallery, CaveAlien 2 trailer, MY NAME IS BRUCE TRAILER, and 2-3 easter eggs on every menu page. Yowza!
Cinematic junk food of the highest order, MY NAME IS BRUCE is a great film to watch with a bunch of similarly Bruce-loving friends, plenty of pizza and orange soda. Appropriately presented by Dark Horse Comics, the film feels very much like a comic book (and indeed a min-comic adaptation of the film is included inside the DVD case), taking nothing too seriously as it rockets along its silly way.