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I laughed, I cried, I spewed. Two of those statements are lies. My Name Is Bruce is a comedy/horror movie produced, directed, and starring none other than Bruce Jenner. Err, wait – if Bruce Jenner had been this movie, all three of the above statements would have been correct. Obviously I meant the one, the only… Bruce Campbell. Are you not impressed by his credits already? As much as I’d love to say, “It’s Bruce Campbell. Five skulls!” I feel like I would be doing Bruce a huge injustice not to fully review what I can only assume is one of the pride and joys of his body of works.
In the small mining town of Goldlick lives the world’s biggest Bruce Campbell fanboy, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe). He’s such a big fanboy, in fact, that our suspicions about Bruce Campbell being the alpha and the omega comes into play at the beginning of the movie when Jeff’s undying love and defensive attitude toward all things Bruce almost ruins his friendship on the night that Jeff and his best friend Clayton go out to the cemetery to try to score with a couple of goth girls. The teenagers soon decide that graveyard crawling is a little boring without causing some mayhem, and their clear solution is to start defiling a sacred place.
Frankly, this was a big plot hole for me because Jeff is incredibly genre savvy throughout the film and yet, somehow, this seemed okay to him. But I suppose since the whole plot of the movie relies on this tiny fallacy, I’m willing to let it slide.
Jeff removes a pendant from a mausoleum and unwittingly releases the Chinese god of the dead, Guan-Di, who kills Clayton and the Debbies while our Fanboy Hero flees the scene. I’d like to take the time to mention that by this point in the film, we’re already rife with references to Evil Dead/Bruce Campbell/various other films in his body of work, and Jeff has used a good deal of them as pick up lines. Please, take this time to discuss amongst yourselves in the comments section if “Gimme some sugar, baby!” actually works!
Meanwhile, the object of Jeff’s fanboy lust, Bruce Campbell himself is wrapping up filming the fictional Cave Alien II, a movie that I wouldn’t mind actually seeing – so Bruce, if you read this, feel free to get right on that. Campbell is depicted as a cynical, washed up version of himself. Err, wait… more cynical and washed up. In fact, he’s depicted as an outright jerk who dislikes his fans, makes drunken phone calls to his ex-wife (Ellen Sandweiss, Evil Dead), tries to hump everything that moves, and demands more than his bloated ego deserves.
Bruce is well aware that his career is in the gutter and his agent Mills Toddner (played by Ted Raimi, in one of three roles in this movie) promises him a special project as a birthday surprise. Before Bruce can get to that surprise, Jeff kidnaps him and takes him to Goldlick, convinced that Bruce is the savior his town needs. Bruce assumes that Jeff kidnapping him is all a twisted small town dinner theater of sorts, being completely improvised, and agrees to help Jeff out. The townsfolk fill him in on Guan-Di’s appetite for vengeance and Bruce soon learns that he’s in for more than he bargained.
When I first sat down to watch My Name Is Bruce, I fairly well knew what to expect – but I was still just a teensy bit underwhelmed with the lack of horror. I quickly got over it, however, once I got into the groove of the film. This isn’t a movie that’s going to send shivers up your spine or give you nightmares, but it will make you snort – and if you’re like me, perhaps squeal just a little bit at the numerous references/tie-ins with other Bruce Campbell works. It truly is a fanboy’s feast of delights… and bean curd, but just watch the movie and you’ll understand, I swear. For those of you looking for a little variety, we even have small country music interludes at appropriate times and an almost delightfully off-color portrayal of the Chinese by Ted Raimi, which for some reason fits into the movie without a second thought.
It’s clear that My Name Is Bruce was made on a low budget, for people who like low-budget films, and it doesn’t disappoint. If anything, one might say that My Name Is Bruce was made badly… on purpose. Bruce Campbell’s directing of himself is exactly what you’d expect. Campbell chews the scenery like someone who’s never been fed before, but he does it in that charming way that only he could pull off. A good portion of the cast is comprised of relative unknowns, although they do their jobs with gusto and sell their roles admirably. If for some reason any of you dislike Ted Raimi (it always seems to have something to do with the semi-universal hatred for Joxer), this is probably not the Bruce Campbell vehicle for you (which doesn’t leave too many since they’re all pretty Ted Raimi-friendly) because as I mentioned before, he has three roles in the movie.
According to 2010 reports, there’s already a sequel for the film lined up and I have to say that the hilarious cop out ending certainly sets up for it, but in a way, it would almost be a shame to go through with a second – this could be one of the ultimate Bruce Campbell classic cult films. Long-standing Bruce Campbell fans, this is the Bruce Campbell vehicle for you – but a word of caution: don’t show this to people who have never seen the Evil Dead or any of Bruce’s other works. It would be like having someone watch New Nightmare before watching A Nightmare on Elm Street. My recommendation? Grab a few buds, grab your popcorn, grab Evil Dead, grab Bubba Ho-Tep (in Jeff’s words, “Everybody liked Bubba Ho-Tep!”), grab My Name Is Bruce for a grand finale and have yourself a Brucefest this summer.