My Name is Bruce Review

The Film

Most mornings, not the ones where I wake up naked in the local stables, I take a long look at myself in the mirror. Every day, I am a little less sure that I like my reflection or that I like the mirror. I tell myself that glass gets old too, or that if I change this facewash or that shampoo I'll suddenly start looking the way I should. Thankfully because I don't yet live in a fable, my mirror doesn't reveal my inner self and part of my anxiety over the wrapping paper of my soul is that I want it to suggest that there is more beauty and good character in my person than I know there truly is.
Self-portraits on film carry the same risks of self-censorship, post event valediction, and plain lying as my bathroom mirror. Recently I reviewed the startling JCVD where the world's favourite Belgian opened his heart, and it's instructive to compare that confessional approach to the one Bruce Campbell uses in My Name is Bruce. Campbell opts for cutting self parody with a built in plausible deniability that he is only acting the role of Bruce Campbell. Where the mussels from Brussels pleads he is human and has fucked up, Bruce delivers a satirical dig at himself from the safe vantage point of comic effect.

It's interesting to note that both men are speaking someone else's words, and it is even more instructive to note that one of them allows control of his self-portrait to rest with someone else whilst Bruce delegates the director role to the auteur inside. This is not a surprising choice, in fact Van Damme's is the surprising choice, but it is instructive when considering where the failed B-movie star of My Name is Bruce ends and Bruce Campbell begins.
My Name is Bruce is superficial satire. It sends up the persona of Bruce Campbell without scratching the surface and it is designed as a low budget film to cash in on his enduring appeal as a B-movie actor with some self-deprecating charm. The film plays the star at his lowest ebb card and enjoys the depravity of making Campbell a sexist, loutish and out of touch idiot. This is the film's prime asset and when Campbell is cowardly throwing pets out of travelling cars, car-jacking pensioners and willing to dally with a pre-op transsexual hooker, played by Ellen Sandweiss(the woman who"knew" a tree in Evil Dead), he is far more entertaining than when he wants to be a better man.

Sadly, Bruce learns to be a better man through the love of a good woman and her Bruce obsessed son, and the final part of the film returns to the B-movie culture that it sends up at the film's opening. The script does include a few cutting lines at the expense of all the bad movies Bruce has delivered and it is infused with cynical lines like the ones Campbell delivers about making a low budget film with one star and hoping it'll make its money back on video.
The story of the Chinese god of bean curd let loose in a frontier town is pure hokum, the rampant decapitations and comedy set-ups are fun if predictable, and the overall product is better than anything that the Chin has starred in lately. As a director, Campbell is good at setting a common tone for his actors, the cast is made up of a lot of his friends and a few first timers, but the work with the horror sequences is a tad repetitive and perhaps his real talent lies in the slapstick moments that see Ted Raimi slaughtered several times whilst in a variety of guises.

For Bruce fans it's a keeper, and for people less bothered about the star it will be a pleasant if not original distraction.

Transfer and Sound

The transfer is encoded using the AVC/MPEG4 codec and the film was shot on Hi-Def video so grain is completely absent here. The image which is bright and colourful doesn't suffer from edge enhancement but does look quite processed and detail can be a little limited when considering the cragginess of the Campbell chin(this has long been a hobby of mine). The aesthetic is quite video-like and this adds to the deliberately fictional appearance of the flick.
Sound comes in a 5.1 mix and a Master Audio version. There is plenty of use of the surround channels and voices do move around the soundstage with a healthy helping of effects mixed around the rear channels or juddering out of the LFE speaker. Both options are clear and precise but clearly the HD option is richer and stronger.

Discs and Special Features

In extras terms, there is plenty of quantity here but separating the chaff from the chaff does take a lot of endurance. The making of documentary, complete with homage to Apocalypse Now, is just over an hour long and explains how the writer, Mark Verheiden came up with the idea and how Brucie's bestest buds jumped on board. There is some onset footage of people getting heated over problems with filming and quite a lot of larking for the camera. The documentary sets the tone for the rest of the extras which are squarely aimed at fans who love to lap up the minutiae.

The main menu has four Easter Eggs with short footage of cast and Bruce goofing off, we get some stunningly dull conversations between crew edited together, an edited up trailer for the pretend film Cavealien 2 and then an ironic making of for that film. There is also a four minute piece with various throwaway Campbell musings and then another piece with cast and crew telling you what a swell or awful guy he is. Love Birds is a minute's worth of two of the male cast getting on in a supposedly homoerotic and comic fashion.

In fact the only two extras of value to a non fan are the featurette on how the fake graphic art was created for the film, there's also a photo gallery of these posters and fake merchandise, and the HD trailer. Indeed there is lots of stuff but trawling through it all was like watching someone else's home movies where the mundane is presented as exceptional simply because a camera was there.

Summary

An entertaining throwaway entry in the Chin's career. The blu-ray has a goodish transfer and enough extras to please obsessives.

Film
6 out of 10
Video
8 out of 10
Audio
8 out of 10
Extras
6 out of 10
Overall

6

out of 10

Last updated: 25/06/2018 22:34:35

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