|The Plot: After a group of teenagers partying around a cemetery accidentally break the chains that have held Guan Di, an ancient Chinese spirit and protector of Tofu, he is let loose and takes aim at any mortal beings remotely close to his graveyard. The surviving teen, who is also a major Horror movie fan, only knows one person to call: Bruce Campbell. The horror hero of the Evil Dead series, who is in all actuality a very bitter b-movie actor fed up with his particular role in the universe. When the teen shows up at Bruce’s trailer, he’s a little drunk but knows better than to run away with one of his crazed fans – however, he isn’t smart or sober enough to see the kidnapping that is coming his way. When he awakens from the trunk of the teenagers car, he comes to the conclusion that this must all be the birthday present that his manager had talked about just days before. So Campbell decides to roll with the punches, that is until he discovers that *gulp* Guan Di is actually real!|
The Review: If you’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades, or if you’re just “too cool” for all of this cult cinema geeky madness – let me explain something to you. Bruce Campbell is the greatest American actor who has every been. Robert DeNiro? Wow, what did he do, get punched alot in Raging Bull? Did he ever lop the head off a rushing deadite or tell a woman plain face “give me some sugar, baby!”? He simply couldn’t. Don’t even get me started on Brando and how he would fair against the Evil Dead. If you haven’t got the point yet, Bruce Campbell’s fans can be a bit rabid. The reason for this is his portrayal of the character Ash in the Evil Dead trilogy, a series that may go down as one of the most important and beloved of the entire horror genre. What was once a cult phenomena with only an army of simple horror geeks at its disposal has turned into a legion of many due mainly to the fact that if a person is introduced to the Evil Dead films – nine times out of ten, they will love it just as much as you do. With films like that it’s hard to imagine how they became “cult” hits in the first place, but Army of Darkness in my opinion is that one piece of cinematic excellence that can build bridges between just about everybody. How could anyone dislike such a film?
My Name Is Bruce is an examination of that love and devotion that BC fans commonly have for their idol. Although written in a world that closely resembles our own, the character of Bruce Campbell is a much different version of who the true Campbell appears to be. Instead of the jovial and entertaining fellow who takes out so much time with his loyal fans and is continually cracking wise with them – he portrays himself here as a slobbering drunk, disillusioned by his own career and eaten alive by his own bitter attitude. This is where the heart of the film lies however, in crafting this ‘character’ version of Bruce Campbell – we are given a character who is in some ways similar to the character of Ash; but a much more down to earth and horrifyingly cowardice take on such a role. Where Ash was simply out for himself and looking after his own well being ahead of everyone else, the character of Bruce Campbell is without mincing words: a coward. A yellow bellied, chicken. His initial reaction to Guan Di is hilarious and all telling about this character, as he runs head-first into the woods trying to escape the monster after finding the villagers weren’t lying. The Campbell character becomes endearing based upon just how cowardly/shallow/self absorbed he is, and how far Bruce is able to take the role. One simply wonders where this character came from, and if he could be based on anything real.
The comedy can be hit or miss at times. There are bits where it seems Bruce is simply taking his schtick to the extreme – but these are always saved by the genuinely hilarious moments that are brilliantly played. I can’t go into it, but I nearly woke those in my house up with laughter during the concluding minutes of the film. Really funny stuff and if you weren’t a fan up until then, chances are it’ll prove to be the saving grace of the picture. Though I know not everyone will be as entertained with My Name is Bruce as I was. Truly, it is the definition of a “fan’s film”. From the Evil Dead references such as Ellen Sandweiss making a return once again as a character named “Cheryl”, Dan Hicks from Evil Dead II making a reference to his own character, Timothy Quill from Army of Darkness doing the same as well as playing Hicks’ life partner and a great bit demonstrating Bruce’s being direct opposite to Ash in terms of firearm knowledge. It doesn’t hurt not being able to spot these things but I won’t lie and say it isn’t a good portion of the fun. After all is said and done, I think My Name is Bruce stands firm by itself without these references – but really becomes something much stronger and entertaining with them.
My Name Is Bruce is definitely an Evil Dead fan’s wet dream, and it shows that Bruce even as he grows older in age still has all the qualities that have endeared him to fans the world over. I can’t promise everyone is going to be able to enjoy it like the geeks will. It is far from a perfect film, the shtick is bound to rub some in the audience wrong and at times it seems like Bruce is simply let loose with no restraint – but what can you expect from everyone’s favorite ham leading and directing himself? If you’re reading this and you’re familiar with Evil Dead 2/Army of Darkness, you’ll know one way or another whether this film intrigues you. Chances are it does, and what can I say, I loved it just as much as any geek could. Check it out.