My Name Is Bruce
R1 - America - Image Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (23rd February 2009).
The Film

Actors who break out into the film industry usually have their fame follow one of two paths: either they can embrace it and become the celebrity whose name and face can become so big that they overshadow the production they’re actually in; or try to live a more reclusive lifestyle away from the main stage where they can more deeply blend into their character and disappear into the film. But this formula is mostly for A-list actors, who get into the spotlight and manage to stay there (or simply refuse to leave). For an actor to aquire the cult status outside of the A-list, Hollywood scene takes a few iconic roles, a lot of charisma, and of course a whole lot of chin. After shining in the “Evil Dead” Trilogy (1981-1992), Bruce Campbell defines what it means to be a cult actor, with his incredibly devoted following despite his not so glamorous film career, as well as a true relationship with his fandom, which essentially acts as the story basis for his second directorial outing in “My Name is Bruce” (2007).

In this film Bruce Campbell directs Bruce Campbell playing Bruce Campbell, a more down on his luck, fictionalized version of himself that’s stuck in an acting career filled with terrible sci-fi movies that pay so poorly he’s stuck living with his dog in a broken down trailer in the middle of nowhere. After yet another night of heavy drinking after meeting with his agent, Campbell drunk dials his ex-wife and both of them tell him to keep an eye out for an upcoming and huge birthday surprise. However the drunken escapades get interrupted after Campbell gets abducted by Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) a local teenager who’s a Bruce Campbell fanatic and believes that Campbell can save his town. Unfortunately, Jeff’s town is under actual assault from an ancient Chinese protector Guan-Di (James J. Peck) after some local teenagers vandalized a nearby Chinese cemetery.

Before going any further, it’s important to admit that I’m one of those Bruce Campbell devotees who will pretty much be entertained anytime Campbell is on screen, no matter the project. I’ve even watched a few episodes of “Burn Notice” (2007-Present), which is a bit outside of my typical interest, but just the fact that Bruce Campbell had screen time in the show was enough to draw me in. So when I say Bruce Campbell is fantastic, I honestly mean it. Most of what I expected from the film was Bruce Campbell does silly things in a largely self-depricating style, and that’s exactly what I got. There’s some great tongue-in-cheek humor and a huge amount of references to “Evil Dead” or any other Campbell project that’s great from a fan perspective. Outside of Campbell there’s also some great supporting acting and writing, though a couple of Ted Raimi’s scenes fall a little flat. Perhaps the best couple of cameos in the film are by Tim Quill and Dan Hicks (both of the “Evil Dead” Trilogy), as a hillbilly couple. Otherwise though it’s a fairly unknown cast who do a good job for the project.

For his second outing as a director, Campbell does a good job of covering all of the action and directing the film to feel like a Bruce Campbell project without trying to be overwhelmingly tied to his other work with other directors like Sam Raimi. The scenes of the cheap scifi film within a film “Cavealien” are brilliantly directed in the bad, made-for-TV fodder-style, with all kinds of jumps in continuity and apparent crewmembers in the background. The rest of the film has some good shots with the action sequences and has some fun with the film, taking everything in stride with the film.

Overall, “My Name Is Bruce” is a great Bruce Campbell project that highlights Bruce Campbell’s talents in comedy and hits a perfect fan note. The acting is silly and over the top, but works in the context of the film as a low-budget film about a low-budget film star. Bruce Campbell does a good job of directing himself and the others in the film, though I would be interested to see him write and direct a movie that he didn’t star in (even though seeing Bruce Campbell act less would be an unfortunate consequence). For the intended audience of “My Name is Bruce,” it really doesn’t need a recommendation from me for you to get out and see it, Bruce Campbell’s chin alone would be enough to get you into one of his films. For everyone else, “My Name is Bruce” is a funny and clever low budget comedy about an exaggerated version of a great and well loved actor whose career I have a great dedication to and whose full name I’ve used 15 times in the review already (that’s an average speed of 3 ‘Bruce Campbell’s per paragraph) since that’s all that’s really necessary to get me to watch something.

Video

The film is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and looks fairly good considering the budget the film was made on, there are a few brief problems with the transfer where there may be a little pixilation or quick problems with the interlacing, but considering the subject matter of the film itself it really adds to the fun. The standard definition DVD transfer still comes through fairly cleanly and clearly despite some brief technical problems that just don’t interfere.

Audio

There are tracks in English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio. The 5.1 transfer on the film sounds good and all of the levels stay together well, giving a good balance in the soundtrack and Campbell’s lines. The actual scoring of the film and the entire soundtrack down to the sound effects capture the tone of a Bruce Campbell project.
There are optional Spanish and English for the Hearing-Impaired subtitles.

Extras

Thankfully, the film which is basically a dedication to the fans comes well equipped with extras including an audio commentary track, a making-of documentary, 6 featurettes, 2 trailers, 3 picture galleries and bonus trailers.

First up is the audio commentary with director/actor Bruce Campbell and producer Mike Richardson. As always, Bruce Campbell delivers a great commentary track that keeps going through the entire movie, keeping the banter going between himself and Richardson, bringing up great stories and insider points about the production of the film, dealing with the filming on his property in Oregon, the choices on acting and sound effects. Generally the commentary is just entertaining and interesting to listen to, almost going the extra mile by presenting an easy to listen-to commentary that’s actually engaging and has great information.

“Heart of Dorkness” runs for 1 hour and 1 second. This making-of documentary catalogues the making of the film in a style satirizing “Hearts of Darkness” (1991)/ “Apocalypse Now” (1979). It’s a clever and well put together documentary that covers the entirety of the production with some funny asides by the documentary crew. Bruce Campbell again is a part of the focus of the documentary, hilariously getting involved in the interviews with the other actors, going from interrupting the filming of interviews to just mocking them behind their backs. It’s a surprisingly high quality and entertaining documentary that really covers everything, from the extras and their relationship to the crew or Bruce Campbell’s career, to the crewmembers on the film itself and even the behind-the-scenes crew.

“Awkward Moments with ‘Kif’” is the first featurette which runs for 2 minutes and 2 seconds, which is essentially extra behind-the-scenes footage featuring some awkward conversations on the set of the film and off camera where Craig ‘Kif’ Sandborn gets into some awkward conversations.

“Bruce on…” is runs for 4 minutes and 11 seconds. This featurette is basically some funny candid footage with Campbell where he tells funny stories and talks about cougar attacks, punching cougars, the film’s low budget, “Spider-Man” (2002)’s high budget, flipping people off, and rap.

“Beyond Inside the Cave: The Making of Cavealien 2” runs for 8 minutes and 4 seconds. This featurette plays out as a public access TV show going behind the scenes of “Cavealien 2” the fictional movie from the film. A fairly funny mockumentary for the fake movie, that goes through all of the fake actors and fake crewmembers and does a great job of looking like a really cheaply produced public access show.

“‘Kif’s’ Korner” featurette runs for 2 minutes and 46 seconds, where ‘Kif’ Talks about the graphic art of the film, actually an interesting featurette that gives a funny look at all the Photoshop work that he’s done for the film itself, the book “Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way” and just some joke things that he’s done for the different people involved in the film.

“Love Birds” featurette runs for 1 minute and 9 seconds, which just quickly covers the romance side plot between Frank and the Dirt Farmer.

“The Hard Truth” runs for 3 minutes and 54 seconds. This final featurette is another joke behind-the-scenes featurette where everyone pokes fun at Bruce Campbell and jokes about Bruce Campbell’s career and his personality (for those of you still keeping track we’ve slowed down to a speed of about 2 ‘Bruce Campbell’s per paragraph).

The “Cavealien 2” trailer runs for 1 minute and 44 seconds.

The “My Name is Bruce” theatrical trailer runs for 2 minutes and 21 seconds.

Next up are the galleries which are compiled into slideshows. It’s a funny look at all of the background materials that managed to show up in the film as well as some extra materials:

- “Poster Art Gallery” runs for 1 minute and 28 seconds.
- “Props Art Gallery” runs for 40 seconds.
- “Photo Gallery” runs for 4 minutes and 24 seconds.

The start-up bonus trailers on the disc are:

- “Keith” runs for 2 minutes and 4 seconds.
- “Palo Alto” runs for 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

This disc is packaged with a 22-page Dark Horse comic book of the film.

Overall

The Film: A- Video: B+ Audio: A- Extras: A+ Overall: A-

 


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