Bruce Campbell is Bruce Campbell… but not Really

     March 2, 2009

Written by Andre Dellamorte

My Name is Bruce is a nice cop-out of a film. That’s not much of an insult, but the film mocks Campbell for starring in Z-grade schlock while the film itself is Z-grade schlock. But it’s done with the right panache for something like it, so it manages to entertain in the process. The difference between something like this and JCVD is that Jean-Claude Van Damme is a has-been. Bruce Campbell never really was. I don’t mean that as an insult. He came close, but I don’t think he’s crestfallen that he works fairly regularly on television as a supporting player and shows up in Sam Raimi’s films as a good luck charm. He lives fairly well and has his own Ranch in Oregon, he’s made a living for himself, and though he was close to slamming evil in The Phantom, and had Brisco County for a season, Campbell has never come across as so ambitious that failure or falling into Z-grade schlock was a crushing defeat. Mostly because in recent years he’s accepted his niche charm and used it to sell two books and some Old Spice. He’s a successful working actor, and he seems to have made peace with that and his cult status.

For My Name is Bruce, Campbell directs himself as himself. This is, of course, fantasy Bruce, so he’s a mixture of Ash from Army of Darkness, and every Hollywood stereotype you can think of. He lives in a mobile home and works in schlock movies with poor effects like the fake film Cavealien, but is kidnapped by teenager Jeff (Taylor Sharpe), who thinks Campbell is the only way to save his town from the vengeful evil spirit of Guan-di, who rests in a small Oregon town because his spirit was called to protect some Asian miners who were trapped underground.

Campbell thinks the whole thing is a birthday goof, and is slightly intimidated by Jeff’s obsessive fandom. But Bruce likes his mom Kelly Graham (Grace Thorsen) enough, and goes along with fighting the spirit. You don’t have to say “aw, baby that was just pillow talk” to know that the AoD structure holds firm here, though the cast is rounded out by Dan Hicks and Tim Quill, the former having been in Evil Dead 2, and the latter a Raimi and Campbell regular. Then there’s the presence of Ted Raimi in three, count them three different roles, and Ellen Sandweiss (of the first Evil Dead) showing up as Campbell’s ex-wife. So it’s a family affair.

Campbell directing himself lets himself get away with murder. Or, that is to say, he doesn’t compare favorably to Jerry Lewis, but his over the top takes (like how he drinks in the film) sets the tone for his performance, and for the film entire. This is a goof, but it’s a fun goof for him and everyone involved, and though it’s low budget and stupid, there is a “let’s put on a show” charm to the film they’ve made, and a heart that comes from something that isn’t complete and utterly without people putting something of themselves into it.

Image puts out the Dark Horse Indie Release with tons fo bells and whistles. They likely knew the film would have a bigger audience at home, and the core demo is likely what got this thing green-lit. The fim comes widescreen (1.78:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 and in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. The film also comes with a 24 page Dark Horse comic book. Go figure. The film comes with a commentary by Campbell and producer Mike Richardson, which is fun, and tells how most of the film was shot on Campbell’s property. There’s a Making of called “Heart of Dorkness” (60 min.), then there’s “Awkward Moments with Kif” (2 min.) which is a kind of gag reel, “Bruce On…” (4 min.) which has Campbell talking about the making of and other behind the scenes moments. There’s a fake Cavealien 2 trailer, and a faux-making of (8 min.), “Kif’s Korner” (3 min.), which offers more Craig “Kif” Snadborn talking about the film’s fake posters, then a gallery for those posters, for props, a photo gallery, “The Hard Truth” (4 min.) a joke on Campbell being an ass, “Love Birds” (1 min.) on Quill and Hicks film relationship, the film’s trailer, and at least fifteen Easter eggs.

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