Monday, February 16, 2009
My Name is Bruce arrives on the heels of JCVD . Both films serve up iconic stars - The Evil Dead's Campbell and action star Jean-Claude Van Damme - in films in which they play themselves and spoof themselves. Campbell stars in and directs My Name is Bruce in which he plays a version of himself -- a divorced B-movie actor with a devoted fan following. We meet one of those fans early on. Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) is driving to cemetery to meet some girls with his friend. But he's being harassed by his friend for being a Campbell fan, and having every one of the b-movie star's films in his car. His friend says it's difficult to find him dates because he has to explain "the Bruce Campbell factor" to the girls, in other words explain the geek factor. But Jeff will not be swayed from his opinion that Campbell is "the greatest actor of his generation." So he slams on the brakes and tells his friend, "You don't like Bruce, you walk." I could have saved myself twenty years of a bad marriage if I had said the same thing to my husband when he offered me $20 to leave a screening of The Evil Dead . If you don't like Bruce, there's something wrong with you.
Jeff's about to meet his idol. While at the cemetety Jeff accidentally unleashes the Chinese God of War (and Bean Curd), and the undead demon starts killing the locals. Jeff decides to seek out Campbell to help him fight the demon off. So Jeff kidnaps Campbell from off the set of the Cave Alien sequel only to discover that his idol is a surly chap with no demon fighting skills whatsoever.
Campbell has a grand time spoofing himself, his fan base, and the film industry. During an encounter with the Chinese demon, Campbell's alter ego ends up shooting the townspeople by accident as he hysterically flees the scene. In another scene he riffs on a famous line of Ash's as he tries to pick up Jeff's mom and introduce her to his "boom stick." Campbell apparently has no qualms about being the butt of a joke or poking fun at his cult image. The film will definitely play better to Campbell's fan base who will pick up on the inside jokes - like having Ted Raimi (Sam's bro) in a trio of roles. The writing by Mark Verheiden, is fun but never truly clever. A typical one-liner here has Bruce insult the Chinese demon by calling him a "one-ton won-ton." This is no Bubba Ho-Tep but it's so rare to see Campbell get a starring role that a fan like myself will just have to savor this until someone else is smart enough to realize what Campbell is capable of.
My Name is Bruce (rated R for language and some violence) knows what it wants to do and delivers the comic horror goods efficiently and with the appropriate sense of fun. There are some nice bonus features on the disc that take you behind the scenes but nothing exceptional. So just go and enjoy Bruce playing Bruce -- nobody does that better.
Companion viewing: JCVD, The Evil Dead, The Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, Bubba Ho-Tep