When I first heard about My Name is Bruce I was pretty freakin' jazzed. After all, I've been a huge fan of Bruce Campbell a.k.a. "The Chin" since 1981's Evil Dead.
The original pitch for this film sounded phenomenal: a group of deluded uber-fans mistake the B-movie actor for his "heroic" alter ego Ash and try to enlist his help in battling some real-life demons. Unfortunately what should have been the perfect excuse for serve up plenty of biting industry commentary, copious amounts of messy gore and tons of Campbell's trademark snark ended up being a complete and total washout.
Where to start? Well, first up, Mark Verheiden's script fails to deliver a compelling story, believable characters or any semblance of a plot. The "humor" in the film is so broad you can see the jokes coming a mile away. There's absolutely no guile or wit here; Campbell might as well be holding up a "THIS IS FUNNY" flash card while he's trying to sell all of the crass dialogue and blatantly-obvious in-jokes.
The emo kid Jeff (Taylor Sharpe), Bruce's love interest Kelly (Grace Thorsen) and the litany of insultingly bad characters Ted Raimi is forced to play are all shockingly underwritten and, in Ted's case, borderline racist. The Chinese demon, though original, is not the slimy, splattery threat that we really want to see Bruce tangle with. Supposedly the film was made for just under $2 million bucks but what's up on the screen looks like it's a few missing zeroes.
But the absolute worst thing about the movie is how Bruce shamelessly sells himself down the river in a sad and desperate bid to generate cheap laughs. Yes, I fully expected him to embrace self-depreciating humor and take the piss out of his cinematic persona, but I really wasn't expecting a character that's completely and utterly devoid of any redeeming qualities whatsoever. And where galloping ego / arrogant blowhard Bruce is great, I really don't care for the alcoholic, deadbeat, nasty creep that's on screen here. He doesn't even exhibit the most basic tenants of personal grooming or base civility, fer Crissakes.
The really amazing thing is that Campbell's ample charm still shines through despite the hack job. If not for this, Grace Thorsen's appealing presence and a few awesome cameos, the film would be a complete and total total write-off.
I have no idea what the hell happened here. Mark Verheiden is actually a pretty good genre writer but here he exhibits zero insight into what should have been a no-brainer home run. I just pray that Ash vs. Evil Dead delivers on the promise that My Name Is Bruce only hinted at.
Hopefully it'll be the palate-cleansing Bruce Campbell vehicle that fans have been clamoring for, something that really does justice to the myth, the man, and the legend.