Not to be confused with the comedy classic They Call Me Bruce, starring Johnny Yune as a guy everyone calls Bruce, because he's Asian, this is the not-quite-finished, soon-to-be-released film starring cult actor Bruce Campbell. I was fortunate enough to see My Name is Bruce at a special advanced screening at the Ashland Independent Film Festival in southern Oregon. Please keep in mind that this review is of a film that is not complete, and will likely undergo significant changes before being released later this year. My review is based solely on the film I saw, and not on what the film might eventual be transformed into.
Bruce Campbell stars as a B-movie actor named Bruce Campbell, best known for his work in films like Evil Dead and Bubba Ho-tep. Technically, this makes the Bruce Campbell that Bruce Campbell is playing the real Bruce Campbell. But as he portrays himself in the film, Bruce Campbell is a self-absorbed, hard-drinking, marginally talented actor with overwhelming disdain for his socially inept fans. It is one of these fans that unwittingly releases a vengeful spirit that proceeds on a killing rampage in a tiny Oregon town. Convinced the only one that can save the town and stop the murderous ghost is the heroic Bruce Campbell, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) kidnaps the actor. But when faced with a real supernatural menace, and not some ridiculous rubbersuit monster, Bruce runs away screaming like a little girl. Will Bruce Campbell rise to the occasion and become the type of hero he's become famous for playing, or will he simply go back to being in low-rent movies most people have never heard of?
As someone who considers himself a fan of Campbell, I've always felt that his talent and charisma has gone largely under-utilized. Sure, he's been in a handful of great movies, most notably the Evil Dead films, Bubba Ho-tep and the Brisco County television series. But by and large, Campbell is an actor who's career has been built on the unwavering loyalty of fans that obsess over everything he does, including some films that really aren't any good. What's great about My Name is Bruce is that it recognizes and acknowledges that reality, and has fun with it. The film is little more than Campbell cracking self-deprecating jokes, making fun of his fans, and painting a bizarre portrait of himself as a despicable loser who's been given an opportunity to redeem himself. It is a film that sets itself up for miserable failure, but succeeds because of Bruce Campbell. And it's not that Bruce Campbell is the only actor who can play Bruce Campbell, it's that Bruce Campbell is one of the few actors with enough of a sense of humor to lampoon himself this much, and enough comedic talent to actually make it all work.
My Name is Bruce is not as clever or as offbeat as Being John Malkovich, but the film often works along those same lines of self-parody, only catered to a much more low-brow audience. Fans of Bruce Campbell will love My Name is Bruce, because it delivers what they all want more than anything else, which is Bruce Campbell doing what Bruce Campbell does best, which is being Bruce Campbell. Even in the incomplete stage I saw the film, it delivered the goods, giving me exactly what I was hoping for.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]