Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 24th, 2009
“A movie filled with so much terrible horribleness, you’ll crap someone else’s pants”
Bruce Campbell has carved out himself quite a little niche in the acting game. No one would consider him a superstar, and the films he’s most notable for are the kind of cult favorite films that critics tend to hate, all except this particular critic. What’s kind of funny about the whole thing is that Campbell has appeared in some seriously successful films, including all three Spider-Man movies. His parts in these affairs might have been small, but Sam Raimi fans know that it wouldn’t be a Raimi film if it didn’t have Bruce Campbell somewhere. Campbell got his start with the Raimi brothers doing little backyard films with them as children. When Raimi got the opportunity to create something a little higher profile, his first choice as the lead was Bruce. That film became the fan favorite Evil Dead and spawned two sequels. The Evil Dead films don’t take themselves or the zombie genre very seriously. They’re a farce, and a failure to recognize that is why the critics hate those films so much. Just take another look at them. The blood effects border on the ridiculous, and Campbell plays such an anti-hero that we laughed far more than we screamed at those movies. For Raimi it meant the chance to become one of the best selling directors out there. For Bruce Campbell it meant wearing the title of schlock king for the next 30 years. If you understand what I just said about The Evil Dead films, than you understand Bruce. And you simply have to understand Bruce, or you will hate this movie.
In My Name Is Bruce, Bruce Campbell takes on his sorriest character ever: Bruce Campbell. We find Bruce making a terrible sequel to yet another terrible film. He’s a jerk both on and off the camera. He’s tired of crappy movies and even more tired of making very little money. He’s splitting up with his wife. He’s totally condescending to everyone around him. He proclaims the need for a break. One night he’s hit over the head and kidnapped by a kid who has seen all of his movies and television shows. He brings Bruce to his small town, which is being terrorized by a creature called Guan Di, the protective Chinese spirit of the dead, and bean curd. The boy has convinced the town that the heroic Bruce Campbell is just the man to defeat the town’s resident demon. Campbell thinks this is all an elaborate birthday present from his manager to relieve his stress, so he goes along with the “gag”. It’s all fun and games until Bruce finds out the creature is real, and so then he does what any self respecting hero would do, he hauls tail outta Dodge. But when the kid is determined to face Guan-Di alone, Bruce finds some courage and returns to battle the evil creature.
For the fans, this movie has everything from the corny jokes to the most fake looking monster they could find. You’ll find so many references to Campbell’s roles that the movie can be almost a scavenger hunt. It’s so refreshing to see the man able to laugh at himself in such a self-deprecating way. If this isn’t one of Campbell’s best movies, then I don’t get it after all. The film is corny at almost every turn, and the story itself almost has no story. It’s all about Bruce, being Bruce, the only way that Bruce knows how. It’s a kick for the fans but a major snorefest for anyone else. If you think you might be ready for this film, go and watch Evil Dead, Bubba – Ho – Tep, and then an episode or two of The Adventures Of Briscoe County, Jr. If you’re still interested, then you’re ready for My Name Is Bruce. Check your logic at the door and just sit back and enjoy the train wreck.
Campbell pretty much produced this movie himself. It was filmed completely on sets built on his own California property. He’s gathered around him mostly industry friends who saw this as more playtime than making a movie. The supporting cast here is pretty weak. Just about every character appears to be from the B films this movie is making fun of. Of course, we don’t know if the actors are just bad, or Bruce wanted them to look bad. Either way, there’s some seriously flawed acting done on this film. Of course, that’s not important. Confused? Go back to those earlier instructions. Start with Evil Dead…
You would think for a film like this, it wouldn’t really matter if it were in high definition or not. How many of us used to watch those third generation dubs of Evil Dead before DVD’s came along? My Name Is Bruce is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. There’s no doubt that this is a pretty good 1080p presentation. You get it from a solid AVC/MPEG-4 codec at a significantly high bit rate. The first thing you’ll notice is the solid color presentation. Bruce is appearing in a sci-fi horror film complete with colorful monsters and light effects. He’s also sporting a horribly bright Hawaiian shirt throughout most of the film. Colors shine through whenever they are presented. Of course, a lot of this occurs at night, so you depend on rock solid black levels, and this film delivers. You’ll see an amazing depth of shadow. There is a nice 3D effect to the film overall.
The DTS HD 5.1 track is pretty much everything you can expect. It’s driven by a solid 1.5 mbps bit rate. This is really a dialog driven film ,so you get mostly a front heavy mix. There are moments when this presentation surpasses what you would expect for a spoof. There are some fine ambient sounds to generate some atmosphere. Your bass will be left out of a lot of the equation, however.
There is an Audio Commentary with Bruce Campbell and Mike Richardson. They do a lot of cutting up, and it’s almost as if this commentary is a spoof of DVD commentary tracks. At no time do they take any of this seriously and have a little fun at the expense of the folks that simply don’t get it.
All of the bonus features are in standard definition,
Heart Of Dorkness – The Making Of My Name Is Bruce: This 1 hour look behind the scenes is pretty funny itself. The feature takes its theme from the famous narration of Heart Of Darkness, better known to you movie goers as Apocalypse Now. This is some in-depth stuff. Likely it’s more than you want to know.
Awkward Moments With Kif: This short 2 minute piece is actually pretty lame. A lot of crew chatter about who knows what. “Kif” is found to be just spouting off about anything that comes into his head.
Bruce On…: Another silly 4 minute feature that gives us Campbellisms on everything; DVD extras to cougar warnings.
Cave Alien 2 Trailer: This is the complete trailer for the crappy sequel in the film that Bruce was working on. It uses mostly clips created for the movie.
Beyond Inside The Cave – The Making Of Cave Alien 2: This 8 minute piece is a spoof of behind the scenes features.
The Hard Truth: This 4 minute piece is the complete footage from the Hard Copy look-alike show Bruce watches in his trailer.
Love Birds: The hillbilly gay guys from the film fill up a couple of minutes. How sweet.
Kif’s Korner: “Kif” shows up for some more random ramblings. He talks about creating the fake poster art for the Bruce Campbell films made up for this movie.
Galleries: There’s plenty of art, props, and production stills.
I can’t tell you enough that this is a “fans only” film. If you don’t know, like, understand, or appreciate Bruce Campbell, don’t waste your time. If you do, you’ll love it. It’s one huge inside joke that totally depends on if the viewer gets it or not. It’s the best I can give you “without having to explain the whole Bruce Campbell factor”.