The second film in our series is “My Name Is Bruce,” the 2007 comedy-horror-spoof-film, directed, co-produced and starring the “B” (or C+ if you listen to some people) movie great Bruce Campbell. As you know we just took a look at Army of Darkness (by far my favorite Campbell film); this time around we are discussing a movie about Bruce Campbell playing Bruce Campbell. Unlike unintentional actors who are not really acting on screen, like when Chazz Palminteri plays Chazz Palminteri in every film, Campbell parades his status as cult B-movie genre megastar and makes a film that pokes fun at his acting career. My guess is that most Hollywood “stars” have too big of an ego to make something with this sort of self-deprecating humor in it.
In his film, Campbell exaggerates all possible perceptions of what life is like being Bruce Campbell. Portraying himself as a gone to hell, ruined by the devil’s nectar, divorced, making wretched sequels to already awful movies and living a trailer with an alcoholic dog, being Bruce means at best you are a proud loser barely maintaining a toehold on the “C” list of celebrity parties.
Somehow believing that Bruce is the hero he portrays in movies, Jeff, a fan and the sole surviving member of a group of Goth-like teens attacked by an ancient oriental evil demon that protects the souls of dead Chinese and bean curd, decides to kidnap Bruce and take him to his small town in the Heartland. There, Bruce erroneously assumes his agent has set the stage for his birthday present (which was actually a hooker) by setting him up for yet another horror film shot in reality-style with an all-amateur cast.
Bruce is a little slow on the uptake in realizing that this Midwest jerk water burg of Gold Lick is under actual peril from an ancient, white-bearded God of War set on avenging the lives of 100 “Chinaman” workers lost in a mining disaster 100 years earlier. Nevertheless, Jeff has sold him as the town’s savior, and like in Army of Darkness, takes up a “Hail to the King Baby” lifestyle.
After visiting Goldlick’s gun shop, Bruce and many amateur-actor citizens of Goldlick follow Bruce to take on Guan-Di, which Bruce thinks is just part of the movie. When he finds out that it’s a real demon, he gets the hell out of Dodge, disappointing his female love interest Kelly and upsetting Jeff as well as the entire town of Goldlick. When Bruce returns to his trailer home, he finds that everyone, including his junkie dog, hates him. He has a restraining order placed upon him by his ex-wife, Cheryl who also wants more alimony, and finds that his “surprise birthday present” from Mills was just a singing prostitute. Bruce is then called by Jeff, who informs him that he’s going to take on Guan-Di alone in spite of Bruce’s embarrassing retreat.
The hooker takes Bruce back to Goldlick, where he is treated with contempt but is determined to rescue Jeff. He drives to the old cemetery where they planted dynamite at the mausoleum and try to lure Guan-Di inside with a cardboard cut-out of Bruce, which Guan-Di doesn’t fall for. Displaying his machismo, Bruce decides to sacrifice himself using bean curd to luring Guan-Di and the dynamite is blown up. He emerges from the debris alive, and hangs the medallion back on the mausoleum wall soothing the spirit. Guan-Di then also comes back to life, and at the very last minute, it turns out the whole story was a movie being screened by the principals at the studio. Bruce argues with Ted Raimi about the timeworn ending and turns it into a “happy ending,” which involves Bruce and Kelly married, living in a nice house, white picket fence and their son, Jeff, who is accepted into Harvard. After the movie ends, Bruce asks, “What could be a better ending than that?” after which Guan-Di appears and attacks Bruce.
I must admit I was a little surprised with this film, I didn’t know what to expect—there are not too many movies where one satirizes one’s own career. Fans of Bruce Campbell and the genera he represents I am sure were delighted by this film. Though I am generally not a “B” horror movie fan (I enjoy many other “B” movie types) this film was not a cheap horror at all; instead it was a unique (and funny) look through the lens of the world of cheap horror movies. It was better than I thought it would be and it needs to be watched more than once before catching all of the hidden humor; and anyone looking to kill a couple hours could do much worse than watching My Name is Bruce. I will say this, while researching this review I looked at Bruce Campbell’s filmography and I would be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that all but the most elite actors would give their right arm for the professional opportunities he has had. Not bad for someone relegated to the seedy underworld of “B” horror movies—according to the site Celebrity Net Worth his is estimated at six million—I don’t know about you but that is a hell of a lot more than me.