Horny-yet-stupid teens awaken Guan-Di, the ancient Chinese patron saint of bean curd, who proceeds to cause havoc in the small town of Gold Lick. The lone survivor from the awakening, Jeff, kidnaps Bruce Campbell and begs hims to save the town. Unbeknownst to the town, this is Bruce Campbell we're talking about.
Before anything else, I'll say this right now: you Bruce Campbell fans will get this DVD regardless of what I say. It won't matter if the film is a piece of crap or made of pure awesome. Because it's Bruce Campbell, you'll grab it. It's the power of the chin. Now with that out of the way, here's the review.
I love Bruce Campbell. In a platonic way, of course (I save my man crush for Johnny Depp). Is he the greatest actor of our generation? Hells yeah! Should Hollywood have taken notice of the guy sooner, and not relegated him to his now-legendary B-Movie status? Definitely. Obviously, I'm being facetious (or am I?), but there are fans, just like in MY NAME IS BRUCE, that believe Bruce is bigger than Jesus, Johnny Depp and beer combined.
MY NAME IS BRUCE takes this mindset and runs with it, creating not only a parody of the man himself and his legacy, but also of the fans themselves. It also helps that the film is cheesy as all hell, and filled with nods to past Bruce Campbell efforts. And who better to direct a film like this than the man himself? Bruce returns to the director's chair after his first foray into direction with THE MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN, and crafts a wonderful self-parody and tribute to not only the myth of Bruce, but to the fans of the myth as well.
Regarding the acting, it's all about Bruce, who portrays himself in the film as a broken-down blowhard coward and idiot, squeaking by on his charm and booze (think 'Ash 2.0'). If only more actors would take this concept of self-parody and have fun while doing it. Everyone else, from Ted Raimi (playing not only Bruce's slimy agent, but a painter and an elderly Chinese man) and Ellen Sandweiss (playing Bruce's ex-wife) to Taylor Sharpe (Bruce's biggest fan) and Grace Thorsen (Bruce's love interest), plays it straight and recognizes that they're all along for the ride.
About the only real problem with this movie is the fact that it exists only to cater to Bruce's group of fans. This is fine and all, but really, try to get your film major friend or your parents to sit and watch this with you, and they'll probably ask 'Who is this guy, and why is he in this crappy movie?'. Yeah, it's one of those 'for fans only' films, as fans of Bruce are really the only ones who will understand what's going on here, with the in-jokes, cheese and various references to Bruce's career.
Really, at the start of this review, I said that no matter what, if you're a fan of Bruce, it wouldn't have mattered if I had said that the movie is worse than watching DISASTER MOVIE with a gun to your head (because not much else is worse than that). You'd watch this movie and love it. Well, I'll tell you now: as a tribute and send-up/roast of Bruce Campbell, it's an enjoyable and fun trip that only fans of Bruce will appreciate. Everyone else will probably wonder what all the fuss is about.
But then, that's when you hand them a copy of EVIL DEAD...
Video: Despite being shot in HD, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is soft and lacking in the details department. However, it's still perfectly watchable for all the cheese and hijinks. Colour is spot on with great contrast, though black levels tend to overwhelm particular shots, leaving things on the murky side.
Audio: The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround mix is solid and responsive for this low-budget affair, making great use of directional effects and atmosphere. The sequences involving Guan-Di obviously make the most of the lower end frequencies, distortion-free. A Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included, which is serviceable, but really, you'll watch the film with the 5.1 track.
First up is the hallmark of any Bruce Campbell feature: the audio commentary. The audio commentary with Bruce Campbell and producer Mike Richardson is just what you'd think it'd be: awesome. Bruce's enthusiasm about the film and the production, as well as his endless nuggets of trivia and hilarious quips will once again challenge you to not have the commentary on each time you watch the film.
Next is an hour-long making-of doc entitled Heart of Dorkness: The Making of My Name Is Bruce. Taking the viewer through the process of the project in an APOCALYPSE NOW spoofing way, this doc is filled with behind-the-scenes stuff (including poison oak and Bruce hamming it up) and interviews that make for a great way to spend an hour. Wonderfully done.
Following that are several small pieces which are more for fun than info, but hey.
The first of these is Awkward Moments with 'Kif', involving some uncomfortable moments of interaction between the crew and associate producer Craig "Kif" Sanborn. 'Kif's' Corner centres on Sanborn again, who this time focuses on whipping up mock posters for the film, while Bruce On... has Campbell the director chatting with his co-workers during the production. The Hard Truth spoofs 'True Hollywood Story' and takes a look at Bruce's secret vices through the eyes of the cast and crew.
Taking the idea of a phony promo piece for a phony film, Beyond Inside the Cave: The Making of 'Cavealien 2' is a satirical look at Bruce 'the character' making his latest B-movie, Cavealien 2. Following that, of course, is the trailer for Cavealien 2, done in over-the-top cheese.
Love Birds is a tongue-in-cheek look at the two gay characters in the film (played by Danny Hicks aka Jake from EVIL DEAD 2, and Timothy Patrick Quill aka the Blacksmith from ARMY OF DARKNESS).
Rounding out the rest of the extras are Poster Art, Prop Art, and Photo Galleries and the theatrical trailer for MY NAME IS BRUCE. There are also several easter eggs to be found by moving the cursor over various shots of Bruce in the Main Menu and Extras Menu. Again, these are more tongue-in-cheek quips, but you do get to see Ellen Sandweiss poking fun at herself (and looking beautiful while doing it).
You also get a 24-page comic book included in the package, which trims the movie and puts it into summary form for those who don't watch the film (for shame!).
A great satire done of Bruce by Bruce for the fans, MY NAME IS BRUCE is one for the list for Bruce Campbell fan nights. Add to that some great extras (both informative and equally tongue-in-cheek), and you have a great budget-priced package of fun.