My Name is Bruce Directed by: Bruce Campbell Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Grace Thorsen, Taylor Sharpe Running Time: 1 hr 26 mins Rating: R
Plot: When an unexplained supernatural yeti-monster wreaks havoc on a rural Oregon town, the community requires desperate measures to save themselves. When a naïve super-fan believes Bruce Campbell is the only one who can help, he kidnaps his hero to thwart the evil that has invaded his beloved community.
Who’s It For?. Bruce Campbell fans, only. If you have no knowledge of the man or his films, steer clear. This film is made along the same lines as the Evil Dead series. If you’re a fan however, get in line.
Expectations: It’s easy to be swept up in the relative hype of this film. What’s easy to forget is that none of Campbell’s previous efforts have been brilliant, or remotely hilarious. Yes, they’ve been so unfunny they’re funny, but after a while, even that doesn’t cut it. Aside from his various cameos in comic-inspired blockbusters (check him out in each of the Spiderman films), he’s done nothing to prove My Name is Bruce will be anything more than a time killer with intermittent moments of awkwardly delivered attempts at humor.
Bruce Campbell as “Bruce Campbell”: Here is a grown man who certainly doesn’t take his situation for granted. This is a man who’s taken his fifteen minutes and stretched it over nearly three decades. It’s actually quite impressive. Here’s a guy with minimal thespian-related talent, but boatloads of networking abilities—Nobody sustains a comfortable living in Hollywood without perfecting this art. Great acting, or comedic gifts can be made up for if you’re friends with Sam Raimi--which is just another example of why Bruce Campbell’s legacy is far more important than his meager abilities to engage an audience. Score: 5
Ted Raimi as Bruce’s Agent: Raimi’s career mirrors Campbell’s, and it’s obvious why. In a film where little is asked of its talent, he brings less than the required lot. It’s difficult to assert how ineffective he is in his limited screen time. We get that the film’s star has made a living satirizing his own shortcomings as an actor, but he could have forgone this borderline-casting-nepotism to hire someone who can feign having either (a) a sense of humor, or (b) a reason to be in front of the camera that is NOT his family-ties to the industry. Score: 3
Grace Thorsen as Kelly Graham: Ah, the silver lining. Thorsen is such an unknown I just found her on Facebook and friend-requester her. Though I sincerely doubt she will accept my cyber-gesture, the fact she’s still “one of us” reminds us of Bruce Campbell’s ability to land proven female leads. Here’s the thing—Some people got it, and some people don’t. It’s so cliché I’m kicking myself for even using that phrase. The thing is, it’s rarely used because few people have this “it” that’s so elusive. Thorsen won’t win an Oscar in her career, but she’s charming enough to make Campbell’s mugging tolerable when it’s intended for her acknowledgement.
Taylor Sharpe as Jeff Graham: As Bruce Campbell’s #1 fan (in Gold Lick, Oregon mind you), Graham comes across as a fresh-faced teen whose faux- rebellion cannot mask the size of his heart. Cheesy? Yes. Bothersome? No. Sharpe may have a lot to learn as an actor, but his innocence shines enough to blind us of these otherwise obvious faults. Just when you’re thinking, “Oh God, were these actors even paid…” you catch yourself, and admit the kid does more with less than most kids his age ever could. Plus, he’s a Hell of a reminder for die-hard Bruce fans out there (who will flock to this film like geese to bread crumbs) about their reclusive teen years. Score: 6
Talking: Campbell still fires blanks when it comes to one-liners. Though this is part of the “charm” geeks everyone openly embrace, it’s hardly enough to warrant staying in your seat for the duration of the film (I went to the bathroom twice). That trademark-clenched jaw brings little to the table when the muscles are relaxed, and words are set free. Still, it’s not entirely on him. This is a script that could have been written by somebody from Gold Lick, Oregon, as it would require a menial I.Q. to complete. The token Brokeback Mountain jokes takes center stage of one of many moments that evoke sorrowful headshakes, and a collective grimace. Score: 3
Sights & Sounds: The special effects are surprisingly adequate. The film’s villain—Guan-Di, the Chinese god of war, is adorably scary. The fact that we know the gore he inflicts is no more than a slew of sight gags, rather than actual murder rampages, helps us suspend reality for nearly an hour and a half (not a minute too short). Score: 5
Best Scene: Not surprisingly, the best scene doesn’t involve gore, or Guan-Di, but the site of Bruce Campbell’s “welcome to Gold Lick” dinner. When Kelly is forced to be nice to Bruce, they engage in the quickest love story in cinematic history. After a crash course (literally) lesson in ballroom dancing, the two of them become an inseparable reminder that true love is different in the world of pretend.
Ending: The three-ending format suits a film when its audience has so little invested in its outcome. Think Wayne’s World meets Choose Your Own Adventure for eight-year-olds.
Questions: How does Campbell’s career stay afloat? Answer: He gets minor roles in major films because he knows major people who knew him when he was a minor filmmaker from Detroit. No further questions.
Rewatchability: Don’t bother. This isn’t Evil Dead, or Army of Darkness. This isn’t even Xena: Warrior Princess. See it once, so you can say you did, and never look back.
If I ever have children, my first order of business will be to forbid them to have ridiculous heroes. I will also require them to provide me with the ticket-stubs from all films they attend throughout their formative years. Remember that scene in Back to the Future, when Loraine’s father (Marty’s grandfather) tells her that if she, “ever has a kid who acts that way,” he’ll disown her? This is what I will say to my kids if they ever insist on seeing a film like My Name is Bruce (the film will stand-in for Marty McFly). This may sound like a harsh criticism, but it’s the truth. I do get it. I understand that shtick is the foundation upon which Bruce Campbell’s career, and aura proudly stand. It makes sense. Just not to me. I guarantee there will be a lot of Birkenstock-wearing forty-somethings who will hate me for saying so, but I’m doing it anyway.
Final Score: 4/10