My Name Is Bruce (R)
Dark Horse; DH Movies Wiki; Dread Central (DVD); IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: none that I know of.
So... this movie stars and was directed by Bruce Campbell, the greatest actor of his generation. Um... the movie was made in 2007, but wasn't released until 2009 (after a very limited theatrical release in 2008). I believe it was in 2008 that a one-shot comic book based on the movie was released by Dark Horse (which also was involved in making the movie). So of course I got the comic before the DVD ever came out (there was no chance of my seeing the movie in theaters), and I didn't get around to watching the DVD until 2011. The movie's slightly different than the comic (and of course much longer), but the basic premise is the same. I originally put this review under "scary movies," but I was never entirely comfortable with that, since it was more of a comedy. A few years later I started a category for B-movies, and moved the review there. I'm a lot more comfortable with that. Later still, when I broke up my scary section into subgenres, I added a link to it under "comedy horror."
Anyway, the movie starts with a couple of balladeers singing about the backstory. They show up now and then throughout the film (all the various parts of their ballad are shown together alongside the end credits, with a bonus scene at the very end). Anyway, the backstory is that in 1870, there was a cave-in in a gold mine in the town of Gold Lick, Oregon, in which a bunch of Chinese immigrant workers were trapped. Now their spirits are protected by Guan Di, a Chinese god of war (and apparently patron saint of bean curd; though I find no mention of that on Wikipedia, there are other sites that seem to confirm it). One night four teenagers go out to a graveyard which surrounds the entrance to the old mine, I guess, which has been boarded up. One of the kids, a boy named Jeff, who is a huge fan of Bruce Campell, takes some kind of talisman or whatever, which was set into the wall of the mine entrance, I guess. This unleashes Guan Di, who kills the other three teenagers, though Jeff manages to escape. However, other people around Gold Lick are being killed by the vengeful god.
Meanwhile, Bruce Campbell is making a movie called Cavealien 2. Of course, in "My Name Is Bruce," he's playing himself, a B-movie actor, and several of his actual movies are mentioned in this movie; but even so, he's clearly playing a fictionalized version of himself. This Bruce is a total unlikable loser, an alcoholic womanizer without much regard for anyone, including his fans, because he's mired in regrets over the state of his life and career. Though of course he's still pretty funny, because Bruce Campbell can't not be funny. (I should also mention that his sleazy agent, Mills, is played by Ted Raimi, a frequent collaborator, who also has two other roles in this movie.) Anyway, Bruce's birthday is coming up, I guess, and Mills has promised him a great present. Then one night Bruce is kidnapped by Jeff, and taken to Gold Lick, where Jeff has convinced the whole town that Bruce is their best chance of defeating Guan Di. (This is, of course, a completely improbable plot device; there is no reason for a whole town of people to be stupid enough to think an actor who has appeared in a bunch of horror movies would be qualified or willing to fight a real monster.) Actually, the one person in town without much (if any) faith in Bruce is Jeff's mother, Kelly, whom Bruce immediately begins hitting on, much to her annoyance.
At first, Bruce believes this whole thing is Mills's gift to him, and that he's going to be starring in a low budget local film, which he takes to readily enough. After enjoying the town's hospitality, he leads everyone out that night on a hunt for Guan Di. When he finally sees him, he immediately realizes this is all real, which doesn't really make sense to me; he should have been expecting to see someone in costume as Guan Di, and while the real spirit may have been potentially frightening, I didn't really think he looked so realistic that he couldn't easily have been taken for a guy in a costume. But whatever, Bruce immediately high-tails it out of town. Still, when Jeff calls later to say he's going to face Guan Di by himself, Bruce decies to return and help.
And that's all I want to say about the plot. But it's a totally ridiculous movie and also really funny, the kind of thing no Bruce Campbell fan could fail to enjoy. There were some elements I thought could be considered offensive to Chinese people, which bothered me, but still even that is hard to worry too much about, because it was just as ridiculous as everything else in the movie. The really fun thing about the movie is how willing Bruce is to mock himself as well as the genre that made him famous (even if he was always pretty irreverent and ridiculous and hilarious in his "serious" horror movies).