Few movies possess enough sheer goofball power to make Army of Darkness look like a chamber drama, and though Bruce Campbell's ultra-meta sophomore directorial effort, My Name Is Bruce, may not go quite that far over the top in delivering the kind of slapstick mayhem that's made Campbell one of cult fandom's hottest commodities, it comes damn close. Fast-paced, ridiculously self-deprecating, and fueled by a manic energy that's so outlandish it washes over the viewer with the giddiness of a B-movie fever dream, it's an enormous step up from Campbell's disappointing directorial debut, The Man with the Screaming Brain. Likewise, it's sure to satisfy Evil Dead fans due to the fact that it's essentially a scaled-down, contemporary working of the Army of Darkness model (cocky jackass defends the frightened locals from an invading supernatural force) and that the alternate-universe-Campbell presented here is, for all intents and purposes, an Ash-ified version of his own bad self.
Confused yet? Here's the rundown...
The setting is Gold Lick, OR, a small mining town in the middle of nowhere. Unruly Bruce Campbell fan Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) and his pals are causing a ruckus in the local graveyard when they inadvertently awaken Guan-Di (Jamie Peck), the Chinese god of war and protector of the dead (he's got a soft spot for bean curd, too). Barely escaping the immortal wrath of Guan-Di, Jeff realizes that the only person capable of protecting the citizens of Gold Lick is Bruce Campbell, his favorite B-movie superstar. After all, Bruce has dispatched countless aliens, beasties, and demons on the big screen, so what's a little Chinese god of war to a guy who's defeated entire armies of the undead? When soliciting Bruce's services the conventional way (i.e., knocking on his door) fails to yield the results Jeff was hoping for, the quick-thinking teen innovates -- luring the hooch-fueled star from his trailer with a fresh bottle before knocking him unconscious, stuffing him in the trunk, and racing back home. Unfortunately for the residents of Gold Lick, Bruce's heroic onscreen persona doesn't exactly translate into real-world situations; not only is Jeff's creature-feature idol brash, arrogant, and completely clueless, but he's convinced that his smooth-talking manager (Ted Raimi) has set the whole thing up as some kind of elaborate birthday surprise. Eventually, Bruce decides to play along, and agrees to take on Guan-Di for little more than a hearty meal and a steady flow of stiff drinks. Alas, Guan-Di is very real, and by the time Bruce realizes that the entire town is in mortal danger, it's far too late to run away.
It's not essential that one be familiar with Campbell's previous work to get a kick out of My Name Is Bruce, but it certainly helps. Shot with a shoestring budget on Bruce's own property in Oregon to take advantage of the state's tax rebate incentive, the movie is overflowing with references to his previous efforts, ensuring that the die-hard fanboys get their fair share of in-jokes while the casual viewer gets a hilarious crash course in the ways of the one they call "The Chin." There's no question that Campbell has a truly unique relationship with his fans, and here he gets a golden opportunity to strike back at hypercritical genre geeks while poking plenty of fun at his smarmy, suave public persona. The whole affair is unapologetically silly, but it's also smartly made, and features plenty of fun directorial flourishes. It's virtually impossible to harbor any ill will toward a flick made with such obvious love for both the genre and the fans, and the fact that it's entertaining as hell can only serve to win the director-star a few new converts as well. So sit back, crack open a pint of Shemp's Hooch, and prepare for a rowdy night of grade-A schlock cinema.
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- Released: 2008
- Rating: R
- Review: Few movies possess enough sheer goofball power to make Army of Darkness look like a chamber drama, and though Bruce Campbell's ultra-meta sophomore directorial effort, My Name Is Bruce, may not go quite that far over the top in delivering the kind of slaps… (more)