Directed By: Bruce Campbell
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Grace Thorsen, Taylor Sharpe
Tag line: "Fearless! Unstoppable! Ready For His Close-Up!"
Trivia: The exteriors for the town of "Goldlick" were actually shot on Bruce Campbell's property where a back lot was built with the exteriors of all of the buildings
He’s appeared in a number of movies, playing characters ranging from the heroic Ash (the Evil Dead series) to an elderly Elvis (Bubba Ho-Tep) to a Maniac Cop (in… well, you know). But in 2007’s My Name is Bruce, actor Bruce Campbell assumes two roles: one that he’d performed only a handful of times before (director), and another that (we assume) was tailor-made for him (playing himself). The result is a spirited bit of self-mockery that, while not the actors’ finest hour, will surely bring a smile to the faces of his die-hard fans.
One night, while in an old cemetery, teenager Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) accidentally summons the Chinese demon Guan-Di (James J. Peck), and in so doing puts his entire home town of Gold Lick, Oregon, in the greatest of danger. In need of a hero to set things right again, Jeff tracks down (then kidnaps) the one person he feels is man enough to stand up to a God: Bruce Campbell. With his career at an absolute low (the film he’s currently working on is Cave Alien II, a sequel to one of the worst movies he ever made), Campbell assumes Jeff was sent by his agent Mills Toddner (Ted Raimi), and believes his so-called showdown with Guan-Di will be nothing more than a sequence for an upcoming movie. But what will Groovy Bruce do when he realizes Guan-Di isn’t an actor in a suit, but a very real, very dangerous warrior from hell?
A large, shadowy being with piercing eyes, Guan-Di makes for an imposing adversary; in the movie’s opening scene, he polishes off three people: Jeff’s friend Clayton (Logan Morgan) and a pair of teenage girls (Ali Akay and Ariel Badenhop), without even breaking a sweat. I also liked the singing duo that popped up throughout the movie, using music to narrate the story (a la Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye in Cat Ballou). But this film is called My Name is Bruce, so naturally, from start to finish, it's the Bruce Campbell show.
More often than not, the actor’s performance is over-the-top (when you’re dealing with a self-parody, that’s to be expected) and Campbell’s willingness to mock himself results in some funny scenes (While watching an “Entertainment Tonight”-style gossip show, Campbell throws a fit when its host, after mentioning him by name, puts poor Bruce in the “Where Are They Now?" category). Along the way, Campbell even takes potshots at his more obsessive fans (After being stopped by a group of fanatics on the street, Campbell hands one of them some roll-on deodorant, and suggests he start using it).
The film isn’t without its problems. The romantic subplot, which sees Campbell sweeping Jeff’s mom, Kelly (Grace Thorsen), off her feet, felt a bit rushed (she goes from disliking him intensely one minute to kissing him the next), and though creepy, Guan-Di seldom leaves the woods surrounding the cemetery, which, you would think, would make him easy enough to avoid (most of his victims trespassed on his home turf). Still, despite these hiccups, My Name is Bruce is a funny, occasionally exciting film, not to mention a good showcase for Campbell’s unique sense of humor.