My Name Is Bruce Movie Review
The movie's not-at-all-secret weapon is Campbell himself. Here he plays, well, Bruce Campbell, or a comic version of him: a washed-up, drunken lout of a cheeseball actor, slogging his way through the direct-to-DVD likes of Cave Alien 2 (a fake franchise hilariously well-integrated into Campbell's filmography alongside the likes of Maniac Cop and Assault on Dome 4). Around the point that Campbell hits bottom, drinking hooch out of a dog dish in his busted trailer, he's kidnapped by Jeff and taken to the town of Gold Lick. The town is under attack by the ancient Chinese demon Guan-di, and Jeff hopes that his movie idol will be able to provide some monster-exterminating expertise.
Campbell, who also directed, has a lot of fun re-interpreting himself as a Hawaiian-shirt-wearing, foulmouthed jackass, especially when he gets to show off his slapstick chops. Fans will appreciate the in-jokes, even if they're almost redundant. Campbell's career might seem ripe for this kind of playful ribbing, but his best roles -- namely his work in the Evil Dead trilogy -- have been in on the joke for years. Army of Darkness parodies and celebrates Campbell's cartoonish, square-jawed machismo with greater skill than the more on-the-nose My Name with Bruce, and with better use of cut-rate splatter effects, too.
Slapdash visuals and near-pixilated cinematography are one thing, but the screenplay cuts corners, too: unlike the similar plots of Three Amigos! or Galaxy Quest, there is no even halfway sane reason for Jeff to believe that the real Bruce Campbell would be capable of providing movie-strength heroism, nor any reason for Gold Lick's townspeople to follow suit. Everyone seems at least faintly (and in Jeff's case, deeply) aware of Campbell's actual, non-slaying profession, and the movie -- an intentionally cheesy B-movie itself - can't provide enough cold reality to make a comedy of contrasts. There could've been a satirical point in here about the way super-fans elevate cult figures who aren't even particularly upstanding in their idealized form, but the movie stays on the surface level.
On that level of silly comedy, My Name is Bruce is agreeable, though awfully hit-and-miss. Campbell the director has a loose, try-anything goofiness, but not much finesse: a clever newspaper sight gag pointing out old-timey insensitivity to Chinese works in Gold Lick is chased with Ted Raimi playing the broadest old-Asian-man caricature this side of Mickey Rooney -- you keep waiting for the twist that spoofs this appalling cliché, rather than reveling in it, and it never comes. The movie is at its funniest when Campbell is on his own, stumbling around that broken-down trailer. Even when helping to design his own vehicle, he's once again the best thing in a second-rate movie.
You got something on your chin.