Fanboy favorite Bruce Campbell is the Stephen Colbert of B-movie actors: He’s created a vain, self-important persona which he plays to the hilt. In his latest low-budget goof, Campbell lays waste to the idea of Bruce Campbell.
Shot on a shoestring around Medford, Ore., “My Name is Bruce” is groan-worthy, frequently amateurish and mostly indefensible. For fans of the Bruce, it will be hard to resist.
Campbell plays an exaggeratedly sleazy version of himself —and any similarities to the critically acclaimed “JCVD,” in which Jean-Claude Van Damme tries a similar tack, end there.
Still, the portrait is gleeful: This Bruce Campbell lives in a trailer, drinks whisky from his dog’s bowl, and begs his agent (Ted Raimi) to get him out of the sequels to “Cave Alien.”
He is kidnapped and brought to a town in Oregon. The townsfolk, mistaking him for an actual action hero, need him because a Chinese warrior has been accidentally summoned from the dead and is laying waste to the locals.
Campbell assumes the whole thing is an elaborate birthday prank, and goes along with it because he likes a local woman (Grace Thorsen) and because he’s well fed. Eventually, of course, he’ll have to buckle down in a dark graveyard and do battle with an ancient Chinese ghost wreaking havoc with a long-handled sword.
This idea — a showbiz star mistaken for the real thing — paid off in “Galaxy Quest,” and it has its moments here. I can’t pretend that “My Name is Bruce” isn’t cheaply shot or shamelessly played, but it has some funny bits.
Campbell, who also directed, is playing to his core audience. Thus there are plenty of jokes about his roles in the “Evil Dead” movies, and disparaging remarks about his career lowlights.
Meanwhile, Ted Raimi, brother of “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi (who grew up making super-8 movies with Campbell), is the movie’s version of Rob Schneider: he plays a variety of supporting roles in cheesy makeup, including a ludicrous Chinese sage.
Add a couple of strolling minstrels straight out of “Cat Ballou,” Campbell’s nonstop chatter (“Can’t a guy get bombed and call his ex-wife at three in the morning without it meaning something?”), and a handful of severed heads for the fans, and “My Name is Bruce” qualifies for endless life on DVD. If the name Bruce Campbell means nothing to you, don’t bother — but check out “The Evil Dead.”