My Name is Bruce
To cap off this month of Campbell, I decided to go with the one where Bruce plays not only himself, but potentially the worst version of himself. He does it really well, it's further proof that the man can have a good laugh at himself, and despite its low ratings, I actually kinda love this one. Of course, there may or may not be pot-laced carrot cake involved with my first watch on this, which may have made me enjoy it a little more than others did. It's possible that now there's just that connection with it. But I digress.
The film opens in the small mining town of Gold Lick, Oregon, where a die hard Bruce Campbell fan named Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) and his friend Clayton (Logan Martin) meet a couple of girls at a cemetery; Big Debbie and Little Debbie (Ariel Badenhop and Ali Akay, respectively). While wandering around, Jeff takes a mysterious medallion from the mausoleum, which in turn releases the Chinese God of War, Guan-Di (James Peck), who also happens to be the patron saint of bean curd. It sounds silly, but after doing a little bit of looking, I learned that there's some truth to this lore - at least as far as mythical Chinese deities go.
These events lead Jeff to the one and only Bruce Campbell, who is living his life in a bit of a rut. His divorce is final, he can't stop getting B movie roles, and his only friend is his dog, whom he shares beers with, drowning out his sorrows. When Jeff finds Bruce, he kidnaps him and brings him back to town in order to fight the spirit of Guan-Di, because of course, Bruce Campbell is a pro at horror monster killing. Bruce goes with it, thinking that it's a role play of sorts, as a surprise birthday present from his agent, Mills Toddner (Ted Raimi). This is mostly fueled by Jeff's Mom, Kelly (Grace Thorsen) who Campbell develops an immediate thing for. Little does he know that he's about to get into the real deal. Can he keep his composure?
Truth be told, it's not the best quality of movie. It's relatively basic, and there's not a whole lot to it, but I have to say that it delivers some laughs. So let's talk about Ted Raimi. He has a bit of a thing for taking on "foreign" roles. Here, aside from Mills, he plays Wing (an old Chinese harbinger of doom) and Luigi (an Italian running gag who has to keep painting the town's population sign). He's got a bit of a Rob Schneider thing going on with that, but I'm sorry to say, they are some of the funniest bits of the film - not because of the stereotypes, but because of the jokes that are written for these characters. Luigi is just so frustrated about having to paint the sign, and the gag works out to have a pretty funny punchline, and Wing actually has my favorite line of the whole film, which I won't put out of context here, but if you've seen it - the line right after his "dispelling dance". So for me, the laughs have nothing to do with the racist stereotypes being portrayed, but I do feel like I'm walking a fine line with it. So fair warning if you may be sensitive to such things.
The real entertainment value to it, however, is just Bruce Campbell willingly playing what could be his stereotypical self. He's cocky, has a bad attitude, treats his fans like a bunch of morons or objects. He once used me as an arm rest in real life. Photo at the bottom of the page - my smile is a little wonky, as I was a tad starstruck. Anyway, it's a weird thing to say, but he plays himself so well. What I mean by that is that sometimes someone plays themselves and often it can be a bit glorified. There's nothing like someone who can play the worst versions of themselves. My personal favorite is probably Michael Cera's polar opposite version of himself in 'This is the End', but Bruce playing himself here is a very close second - basically a coin flip.
There's not much more to say about it, so I'm gonna end it here. I had some fun this summer, going through a big chunk of Bruce Campbell's resume (with a couple of repeat views, including this one), even if a lot of them just came out as average at best. Campbell is a B movie actor, though, so one can't expect Oscar-worthy watches here. He caters to those who don't need to take movies seriously to enjoy them, and here, it shows. Hell, there's even lines that flat out insult him, saying things like how his films are childish, or that he was the worst part about 'Moontrap'. But the reality is that Bruce Campbell is a bit of a legend when it comes to cult horror, and even in comic book form, he's taken on Freddy and Jason as Ash. Like a good stiff drink, he may be an acquired taste, but once you acquire it, you fall down a bit of a rabbit hole with his stuff.
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