(I originally wrote this review for Ain't It Cool News, when I saw the film over a year ago at the Ashland Film Festival. I was reminded of the film, when I saw the trailer over at JoBlo, and thought I'd repost it here, for posterity and promotional sake. As far as I know, still no release date.)
For starters I’m a huge Bruce Campbell fan, loving every second of the Evil Dead trilogy, enjoying many bad films based solely on his performances in them, owning a few action figures and even going so far as to name my son Ash. Not that I’m that obsessed with the character, but my wife and I loved the name for its strength and uniqueness.
The Ashland Independent Film Festival is in a small town in southern Oregon , the closest festival to Bruce Campbell’s home. Inside this year’s AIFF there was a mini-Bruce-fest. They played Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Bubba Ho-tep and finished the night with the highly anticipated My Name is Bruce. Bruce himself came out to introduce the film, telling us about filming in southern Oregon , his favorite part being able to sleep in his own bed at night. The film isn’t fully finished; it played with temp music and sound effects and with most of the visual effects still very rough. The audience of 500 Bruce fans ate it up anyways.
The film starts with a couple of dumb teenagers accidentally unleashing the Chinese demon Quan-Di from a small cemetery near the fictional town of Goldlick. The only one who survives happens to be the biggest Bruce Campbell fan alive. The film cuts to Bruce filming a cheeseball flick called Cave Alien 2. Right away he starts spouting bad one-liners in his patented Bruce Campbell fashion, and then lasers down some awful looking aliens, getting sprayed with gallons of green ooze in the process.
After cut is yelled, we see an extremely over-the-top version of Bruce. He’s rude to his cast mates and crew, hitting on a pretty co-star with some more terrible one-liners, treating his fans like dirt, attempting to fire his incompetent agent (played by Ted Raimi in one of three roles), finally retiring to his trashed mobile home where he gets drunk and passes out on Shemp’s Hooch.
Soon the kid from the beginning of the film comes knocking on his door asking for his help in ridding the town of the evil Quan-Di. Bruce refuses, thinking he’s being pitched a movie; he is then knocked out and locked in the kid’s trunk on his way to town. Once there, through the mistaken idea of thinking it’s all an elaborate prank and his lust for the town’s hottie, Bruce agrees to kill off the Chinese demon. He is soon drunkenly leading the town’s citizens into battle, but once he realizes the demon is actually real he retreats in hilarious fashion. From there the third act is very predictable with Bruce learning the error of his ways and helping his number one fan escape peril.
To fully enjoy this film you must be a Bruce Campbell fan. There are endless references, spoofs and jokes about his other films; most of them getting a good laugh, a few of them falling flat. Otherwise the film is fairly bare; it’s pretty much a one man show. Besides some good comic relief from Ted Raimi most of the cast is empty shells, stock characters from other cheesy horror films. Though after viewing, you will be humming the Quan-Di song which is sung by two of the minor players throughout the film; it is one of the more inspired bits, the only one not featuring Bruce.
The main problem with the film is that the Chinese demon is an extremely weak bad guy; he has fun, gory intro in the graveyard but never evolves beyond that. His expressionless rubber mask and limited killing style quickly grows tired and he is ultimately very forgettable. The film would have benefited greatly from a monster or monsters that were more charismatic. I guess they were trying to go for something different here, but it didn’t work. The film might have been better if he’d been battling something resembling the Evil Dead or a variety of baddies from his film catalogue; which would have course lead to more easy jokes.
Overall the film is a fun ride, with the Bruce charm on full blast. I don’t think many of his fans will be disappointed with My Name is Bruce as it delivers on what is promised. But the film could have been much better with a stronger screenplay; one that reached beyond its stock characters, that filled a few of the plot-holes and replaced the really lame bad guy. The film might be improved if they are able to fix a few of the minor problems with more editing. No matter what, the film will go down as a cult classic, based solely on Bruce’s involvement.