My Name Is Bruce Review
Bruce Campbell fans are a strange breed. The cult actor remains a firm favourite with horror aficionados thanks to his role as Ash in the Evil Dead trilogy and has never been shy to play up to the god-like worship this has afforded him with tongue-in-cheek relish. His credentials have never risen above B-movie star, though, and his acting is far from perfect, yet as the chainsaw armed, shotgun wielding zombie slayer Ash, Campbell was rewarded with followers who love everything he does. My Name is Bruce is a movie for these people – myself included.
In My Name is Bruce, Campbell plays himself as a rude, obnoxious, washed up has-been. Stuck filming B-grade trash such as sci-fi monster romp The Cavealien 2 with cheap effects and a hammy script, he hates his fans and lives alone in a trailer park trying to make ends meet. When reckless teenager and Bruce-obsessive Jeff Graham (Sharpe) accidentally awakens ancient evil spirit Guan-di in the small mining town of Gold Lick, Oregon, the Chinese protector of the dead goes on a murderous rampage. In a bid to save his town, Jeff kidnaps Bruce as the only man he knows who can defeat the demon – however Bruce thinks it’s all just art of birthday prank arranged by his agent (Ted Raimi, in one of three roles), and goes about taking advantage of the town’s hospitality until he comes face-to-face with Guan-di himself and realises he’s got to live up to his big screen exploits for real.
Just as Bruce Campbell’s movies post Evil Dead have generally found most success with his loyal army of fans, My Name is Bruce has a similar appeal. In other words, this is a film for Campbell obsessives. Campbell, who also directs, lampoons his nice guy image by acting like the spoilt brat who talks highly of himself because his career has gone nowhere. The real Campbell knows he has made many awful movies over the years and has survived in Hollywood thanks to a certain innocent charm stemming from him playing the man who has few skills yet never gives up until he finds success in some way, shape or form. His fictional self here is a drunk who tries it on with every woman he sees – effectively a chancer with no respect for anyone. Those who know Campbell will find plenty to laugh at as he dishes out lines such as “give me some sugar, baby” and spoofs scenes from his movies; those with little knowledge of Campbell will probably be less amused, particularly when the action moves on to demon battling from fictional Campbell’s disgraceful behaviour, as Campbell mocking himself has a certain cannibalism about it which may make his performance appear cringe worthy to the uninitiated.
Among the supporting cast, and adding to the “need-to-know” aspect to enjoy My Name is Bruce fully, are a series of actors from Campbell’s past including Ellen Sandweiss who starred as Cheryl in The Evil Dead and here plays Campbell’s ex-wife Cheryl , Ted Raimi who has taken roles in numerous movies directed by brother Sam and Danny Hicks of Spider-Man 2, Darkman, Maniac Cop and Evil Dead II fame. There’s a real sense of communion among the actors back together on screen, and the enjoyment they had making this movie is clear. Campbell is more than happy to make fun of himself and his fans, for example the obligatory Evil Dead fan Jeff has a shrine to the trilogy and arguably Campbell’s finest work which freaks the fictional Campbell out, and as a result My Name is Bruce can be hailed as Bruce Campbell providing classic insight into his career if you’re in on the jokes. If you aren’t, you’ll probably find it a mystery Campbell has any fans at all in which case the movie really isn’t for you.
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