DVD Release: My Name Is Bruce

Recommendation: Stay far away unless you’re a Bruce Campbell freak like me.
* or ***** (One out of Five Boom Sticks, or Five out of Five, depending…)

Quick question…do you even know who Bruce Campbell is? If not, I promise you that you’d shoot me if you go see this movie based on my recommendation. If you do know who Bruce Campbell is, there’s a fighting chance you’ll find yourself like me, falling slowly but surely in love with this film, refusing to recognize how God-awful it actually is. Maybe it’s a co-dependency thing.

Plot: The real-life King of B-Movies, Bruce Campbell, is asked by an adoring fan to help his town destroy a real-life evil Chinese demon. Bruce thinks he’s just filming another of his bad movies, but how will he respond when he realizes his fans need him to be a real-life hero? Written by: I just about died when I saw during the final credits that this was written by Mark Verheiden, the writer and co-executive producer of Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, and Heroes.
I don’t even know where to begin. This ruthlessly self-deprecating movie is either a remarkably coherent stroke of satirical genius or its one of the most excruciatingly embarassing movies ever to have been made. One thing I can be pretty certain of–I think–the awfulness of this movie is 100% intentional, which is its saving grace, at least in a co-dependent sort of way.

I can’t tell if Bruce is just channeling the character of Ash from the Army of Darkness and the Evil Dead movies–one of my favorite movie characters of all time–or if he really is just being himself. It makes me wonder if Bruce Campbell can act at all, or if his natural personality has just somehow been turned into an incredibly successful cult franchise simply as the product of a completely random Universe. (The answer is the latter, by the way.)

Campbell isn’t a product of his own success, after all. He’s the lucky high school side kick of talented director Sam Rami, who has directed all of the Spiderman films and other great works like A Simple Plan and The Quick and the Dead, and who got his early start in film making by adroitly playing around with cheap horror gimmicks (same as Peter Jackson). But Campbell has seemed to make his accidental cult status into a franchise. His weird standing in the B movie hall of fame-if there ever was such a thing-has built him into his own redoubtable industry. Amazingly, My Name Is Bruce seems to have achieved the impossible: glorifying his trademark wretchedness to the point that he sinks to an all new low/high. It’s like a snake eating its own tail, or a lowly sporting-goods department salesperson (Ash, for the uninitiated) pulling himself up by his own bootstraps so that he actually is levitating on nothing.

For the initiated, this movie has all the homages and references, and I mean ALL, that you could possibly want. Ted Rami (Sam Rami’s brother) plays at least 3, maybe 4 roles (a recurring theme in Campbell flicks), it has all the vintage Rami camera work, they work in every famous Campbell line from Army of Darkness and the Evil Dead movies, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Bubba Hotep, and all the others. He gets to perform all of his goofiest physical comedy. To boot, they work in dozens of brand new terrible one-liners of the caliber of Army of Darkness–it really makes you nostalgic.

In college, after watching Evil Dead II late one night with my dorm buddies, I sat down at the computer, and utilizing the glory of the early internet, I actually found Bruce Campbell’s email address. I emailed him to let him know that I had been really impressed with his acting ability, and to my utter amazement, he emailed me back to say thanks and we actually became pen pals for a while. Eventually I stopped writing because it just seemed weird to keep it up, but he sent me on his own dime a really cool autographed poster of Army of Darkness that I still have framed to this day. Recently, he was at Sacramento’s Crest Theater to promote his new memoir, “If Chins Could Kill, Confessions of a B-Movie Actor.” I didn’t bother to go see him, and now, sitting here, I somewhat regret it. The thing is, knowing him, he’ll be back around again, charging his batteries with the flattery of a strange fan base that…oh my God…includes myself.

I’m falling more in love with this awful movie every second I sit here and write about it, but seriously, if you’re not familiar with Bruce Campbell already, DONT go rent this movie.

PS. He actually is a talented actor–or at least he’s very talented at being Bruce Campbell.

PSS. I still can’t believe this film was written by the co-executive producer of the new Battlestar Galactica series.

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