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Christopher Webster [Film Festival 10.26.08] movie review horror comedy

Year: 2008
Release date: October 26, 08 (limited)
Director: Bruce Campbell
Writers: Mark Verheiden
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 7 out of 10

Somewhere, amid the noise of clattering beer bottles and the howler monkey antics of the festival crowd, films played. Welcome to Deadmonton, a truly alternative film festival where a fight is probably breaking out in the back of the room and head curators Matt Acosta and Derek Clayton will have no problem standing up at the front of the crowd to tell everyone to "shut the f#%$ up or get the f#^$ out." A fest where crowd pleasers like Tokyo Gore Police and Treevenge rock the house between retro grindhouse trailers and live, if somewhat sedate, burlesque performances. Oh wait, did I forget to mention they also managed to score the Canadian premiere of Bruce Campbell's hilarious new film, My Name is Bruce? Yeah, even before its premiere at the Alamo Draft House in Austen, My Name is Bruce played to a sold out and captivated crowd of film loving misfits in nowhere Alberta - and while it may not have been the Evil Dead second coming that some were hoping for, they certainly ate up every minute of it.

My name is Bruce is the genius brainchild of cult movie star Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Alien Apocalypse) and Battlestar Galactica writer/producer Mark Verheiden (well, Verheiden also wrote Timecop but we won't go there). A brilliant piece of meta-cinema, the film stars Bruce Campbell as, well, Bruce Campbell - a vulgar, aging, divorced, cult nobody, who gets caught up in a real life adventure that very closely resembles a bad Bruce Campbell movie. And that's where the true genius lies in this otherwise imperfect film. It may start off as a winking piece of self-deprecating comedy but, as it barrels along, you realize that the satirical tone of the film has slowly fallen away and what you're left watching is a Bruce Campbell movie that's really not that different from Alien Apocalypse, Terminal Invasion, or the equally risible Assault on Dome 4. It's a bit formulaic, has a small budget, and a guy in a demon suit chops people's heads off.

The story is similar to Tropic Thunder in that it's about actors who think they're playing a role when really everything happening around them is real. Bruce Campbell is kidnapped by an uber fan who thinks the actor can protect his small town from an ancient Chinese demon that's been unleashed. At first Campbell thinks its all an act; a birthday present from his agent, and goes along for the ride. When he realizes that 'Guandi' is the real deal, he must decide whether to run out his new friends or become the kind of action star he plays in the movies.

The absolute best part of the film is Bruce "the chin" Campbell though. The man is unquestionably hilarious in this film and you can tell he's having the time of his life playing a parody of himself (at least I hope the real Mr. Campbell isn't drinking Wild Turkey out of a dog bowl on a regular basis). He's pompous like Ash, despises his fans, is kinda dense, makes fun of his own body of work, but still manages to be a charmer all at the same time. Is he anything beyond a decent director though? I'd say the jury's still out. The pacing is fine, the actors manage to hit their marks, and the comedy is impeccably timed, but the film is still very broadly drawn with slightly out of date Brokeback Mountain jokes and Ted Raimi even pulling in a couple of borderline racist character bits (besides Campbell's agent, Raimi plays a bumbling Italian painter and an aging Chinese dude who can't pronounce his "L"'s).

For a comedy, the film manages to pull out quite a few gory surprises. I remember reading an interview with Mark Verheiden back when there was some question as to whether or not My Name is Bruce would even be released and he said that the film had received more money to make it even better. I'd be willing to wager that this money went into some extra gore and creature FX. There are certainly loads of casualties in the movie.

I'm not surprised that My Name is Bruce is only getting a limited theatrical run. It's a lot better than most of the stuff that gets wide releases but its also a very quaint and niche market film. Fans of Campbell will surely love it, but viewers not as familiar with "the chin" will be less inclined to understand the jokes or care about the characters.

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Cyberhal (13 years ago) Reply

Bruce is a genius, have you ever seen Bubba Ho Tep? he plays Elvis in an old people's home, who has to battle an ancient Egyptian spirit God, it's brilliant and hilarious. Can't wait till My Name is Bruce hits LA, i see it's in NY city on 31 Oct, makes me want to jump on a plane


agentorange (13 years ago) Reply

Bubba Ho-Tep is awesome! Plus I love Don Coscarelli so it was a match made in heaven. If you liked Ho-Tep you'll probably like My Name is Bruce, though it's not quite as good.


Fictis (13 years ago) Reply

Yup, Add my vote to Bubba Ho-Tep, this film is a marvel.
Very nice review dude... as usual ;)


fps_dean (13 years ago) Reply

I saw this qith a Q&A with Bruce Campbell afterwards in New Haven. I have not laughed so hard in a long time.

He satirizes himself, his career, his fans, famous lines from his movies, and even horror movies in general, and very well done.

Bruce Campbell fans will love this movie. It's good too for the non-fans if they get the jokes in the movie. There are a lot of "inside" jokes, most of which you can pick up on if you have seen Army of Darkness, but if you haven't you should be able to pick up most of it.

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