Bruce Campbell - Bruce Campbell
Grace Thorsen - Kelly
Taylor Sharpe - Jeff
Ted Raimi - Mills Toddner/ Wing
Ellen Sandweiss - Cheryl
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Running Time - 86 Minutes
Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4
PLOT - In Gold's Lick, Oregon, some Chinese burial site has been disrupted to the point where it unleashes the Chinese God of War and Bean Curd Patronk, Guan-Di. The kid responsible, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe), realizes that the town can't defeat this creature alone. Being a huge fan of B-movie and favorite cult actor Bruce Campbell (playing himself), Jeff decides to enlist his help by kidnapping him with the help of Bruce's agent (Ted Raimi). Mistaking Bruce for the characters he has played, Jeff doesn't realize that Bruce is really an alcoholic who's going through a divorce, lives in a trailer, and hates his cult career but takes the roles to pay for allimony. When Bruce is just as unprepared to face Guan-Di as Gold's Lick is, Jeff decides to take matters into his own hands. Not wanting to see Jeff get killed [and trying to get back in the good graces of Jeff's mother (Grace Thorsen)], Bruce decides it's time to get groovy and prove that he's just as heroic as the characters he plays on television and film.
STORY - MY NAME IS BRUCE is an entertaining film for the most part, although it does have its flaws. Seeing Bruce Campbell play himself in a more negative, extreme way is a hoot to watch, and having a story based around that involving a demonic presence is a pretty cool premise. The set-up is pretty generic but it works. The characters are all different and are very likeable. The dialogue is well written and will definitely make you chuckle during several scenes. Written by Mark Verheiden, you can tell that Verheiden is a fan of Bruce Campbell's work and knows enough about the guy to make MY NAME IS BRUCE mostly work. He wrote a simple script for a simple premise that focuses more on characterization than on the monster drama itself. Can't knock something that doesn't hide what it is - a tribute to a B-movie legend that deserves every accolade he receives.
However I think Verheiden tried too hard in making some of the gags work. Some of the jokes tended to be knocked to death to the point where you'd wish the narrative would move on to something else. Also, I was expecting MY NAME IS BRUCE to be funnier than it was. While it did make me laugh, I wished it had a bit more edge and freshness to the humor. The jokes should have been "ha ha" funny, not just "kind of amusing" funny.
Also, I thought Guan-Di was a lame villain. He didn't seem to be much of a threat at all and was barely the focus of anything until the beginning and the end. I think it would have been nice if Guan-Di had a bit of a bigger and more impactful background that would at least make me believe this dude was dangerous to this town. Hell, he only killed like 5 people. Not much of a villain, I think. It also didn't help that bean curd seemed to be his kryptonite. Lame.
I also thought some of the characters were ridiculous. Ted Raimi was cool as Bruce's agent, but playing both Wing and the guy who painted signs was a bit too much for me. I was expecting Eddie Murphy to pop out and play either THE NUTTY PROFESSOR or NORBIT. They didn't add much to the story at all and weren't funny at all. Also not funny - the two guys who were playing music between acts. If I wanted to see this routine in a film, I'd watch THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. At least there, it's funny.
Didn't dig the ending either. It went about three minutes too long and just left a bitter taste in my mouth. It's a simple script. Verheiden shouldn't have tried to complicate it for a twist ending. It didn't work. Less is more.
DIRECTION - Bruce Campbell is a very good director. The pace was excellent. The mood definitely had a B-movie atmosphere and feel to MY NAME IS BRUCE. There were some shots that definitely had style going for it. And the special effects were pretty well done as well. The man learned alot from working with his friend Sam Raimi. Can't complain at all here.
VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - The violence is pretty nice here. We get some decapitations and limbs flying. Not a gorefest but I was pleased with what I saw here. The sex and language are pretty tame here. Some sexual inneundos and random cussing here and there, but nothing that will give anyone a heart attack.
ACTING - Here is where MY NAME IS BRUCE shines. Bruce Campbell is fantastic as always, playing a Bizarro version of himself based on a lot of elements of his EVIL DEAD character, Ash Williams. He was funny. He was charming. He was sexist. He was a prick. He was heroic. The man can do it all. Grace Thorsen was very stunning as Kelly, the love interest. She also played the tough chick well and had nice chemistry with Campbell. Taylor Sharpe was also great as Jeff, Bruce's number one fan. He definitely held his own with Campbell. And this was his first role? Wow, I wouldn't have guessed. Ted Raimi was cool as Miles, the agent. But as Wing and the guy who painted signs? Eh, I could have lived without it. And was that Ellen Sandweiss from THE EVIL DEAD as Bruce's ex-wife? No wonder there relationship didn't work. Once you're raped by trees, that changes a person.
MUSIC - Typical action/horror score. Plus folk songs from those two guitar playing idiots. It was okay I guess.
THE FINAL HOWL
While it's no EVIL DEAD, MY NAME IS BRUCE is still a more than decent B-movie. While the direction and acting are excellent, the story is what really brings this film down. But it's still an entertaining flick made for Bruce Campbell fans, who will no doubt appreciate this one somewhat. You know what I would appreciate more? EVIL DEAD 4. Please in my lifetime, thank you very much.