DVD Review: My Name is Bruce

13 Feb

My Name is Bruce

Writing this review of My Name Is Bruce just a few days after attending an appearance by Bruce Campbell in Edinburgh where he introduced the film, I’m still a little shell shocked. Watching a film where an actor plays a version of himself, only to have said actor stand in front of you minutes later discussing it is slightly surreal.

With his appearances in low budget classics such as the Evil Dead trilogy, Maniac Cop and Man with the Screaming Brain, Campbell has carved a niche for himself as one of the greatest living B-movie stars. Never taking himself too seriously, Campbell has also built up a strong fanbase who follow him from project to project.

My Name Is Bruce is something of an ode to Bruce’s fans and to anyone who has ever watched a horror movie or rented a DVD that clearly has had zero money spent on it.

Bruce Campbell plays Bruce Campbell, a star of low budget classics such as Cave Aliens and Cave Aliens 2, who has carved a niche for himself as one of the greatest living B-movie stars.

When Campbell is kidnapped by a young fan who needs him to help rid his small town of a recently reawakened Chinese demon, the actor must put all the knowledge he’s gained over the years from his many films to defeat the monster…or run away like a little girl.

Keeping the low budget theme alive, My Name Is Bruce is made on a tiny budget itself, but this doesn’t detract from the sheer fun of the project. Campbell is on good form as a mirror universe version of himself, an alcoholic, down-on-his-luck bum whose career is barely average.

Bruce Campbell is Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is...Bruce Campbell

Nods to Campbell’s numerous movies are made through both visual and verbal references; one scene set in the ultimate Campbell shrine showing posters and memorabilia that will make even the most casual fan smile with recognition.

Comments made by Campbell and other characters also poke fun at the actor’s image, helping to reinforce the idea that the man has few airs and graces.

With cast and crew culled from the local acting pool of Oregon, where the film was made, there are few well known faces, bar the occasional appearance from ex-Campbell co-stars such as Ellen Sandweiss as wife Cheryl (Sandweiss starred as Cheryl in the original Evil Dead movie) and Danny Hicks (Maniac Cop). Love interest Grace Thorsen as Kelly is a great find, giving the film a love story subplot that doesn’t get too schmaltzy.

Written by Battlestar Galactica scribe Mark Verheiden (I’m guessing the script was completed sometime in 2005 as the film was made in summer 2006), the plot itself doesn’t deserve too much analysis as it’s basically just an excuse to allow Campbell to throw out a series of fan pleasing one-liners and act OTT for 90 minutes.

It might have been nice to have something slightly more substantial, but it moves at a fast enough pace that it doesn’t become too distracting.

Depending on your point of view, the ending is either a bit of a cop out or the perfect coda to what has gone before, the nature of the project making both viable.

DVD Extras

The two disc DVD comes with a number of extras that make it a great buy for Bruce Campbell devotees. The feature-length commentary from Campbell and producer Mike Richardson offers some decent insight into the making of the film that genuinely adds to the films enjoyment.

A sixty minute documentary, Heart of Dorkness, may repeat much of the information from the commentary but it also widens the input from other members of the cast and crew.

With only 18 days filming, much of it quite literally in Campbell’s own backyard, the ever present tension caused by technical hitches and lack of budget is caught nicely on film and isn’t afraid to poke fun at the absurdity of film making. Nice.

Other goodies include a trailer for the fictitious Cave Alien 2 movie seen in the main feature, a piece about the “love affair” between Danny Hick and Tim Quill’s characters and clips of Bruce Campbell discussing life in the biz.

By the end of the extras you might be a tad weary by the whole “it’s just a joke” nature of the film, but for the true fans Bruce is Bruce is Bruce…

Overall

A worthy addition to any Bruce Campbell collection, the film should also appeal to non-converts and B-movies lovers alike. While the script won’t be winning too many awards, it does have an undeniable charm that rewards the fanboys (and girls) without pouring scorn on their devotion.

DVD Specifications

  • Label: Anchor Bay
  • Release date: 2 March
  • Certificate: 15
  • Running time: 86 minutes (approx)
  • Price: £19.99

Visit the My Name Is Bruce website for more information.

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