Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Name is Bruce

My Name is Bruce
My Name is Bruce - The Chin Strikes Back!

..and 'My Name is Bruce' is not entirely ridiculous).
Coincidence No. 555,569,445:
The same day on which I see Charlie Kaufmann put a thinly veiled version of himself up onscreen in a movie he directs, I also see Bruce Campbell playing himself, or a caricature of himself, onscreen in a movie he also directs.
'My Name is Bruce' - or 'Army of Darkness meets Three Amigos' - uses that well worn cliche of the actor being mistaken for a hero. As per usual, some teenagers accidently unleash a Chinese demon, God of War and Protector of Bean Curd, Quan Di. Before the population of Gold Lick are decimated, the locals recruit (kidnap) a washed up Bruce Campbell (he lives in a trailer and drinks whiskey from his dog's water bowl) to defeat the creature. Just like Ash in 'Army of Darkness', and countless other Campbell Bs, our hero is vain, obnoxious and cowardly, but ultimately comes good in tackling the monster.
This not Campbell's directorial debut, though you might be forgiven for thinking that. Surprisingly, given his frequent collaborations with hyperkinetic Sam Raimi, it's flat and unimaginative visually. He seems to have learnt little from his friend. Nevertheless he manages to tell this overly familiar tale amiably enough. Even more surprising is how cardboard his acting performance is. No one could ever accuse Campbell of being subtle, but his gurning is usually done with a healthy self-conscious wink (and he was genuinely affecting as Elvis in 'Bubba Hotep'). Here, where he is supposedly playing himself, he really does seem bad.
Things do improve as the movie progresses, but it all seems every bit as low budget as it no doubt is. There is also a strain of humour at the Chinese community's expense that left a bad taste in my mouth. Ted Raimi (brother of Sam) plays (very broadly) three separate characters in the movie; a slimey agent, an Italian painter and Wing, the last descendent of the Chinese miners whose accidental death in a mining accident drives the plot. Yes, the smalltown racism of pioneering America is satirised (the death of 100 Chinese miners gets a small piece in a local newspaper dominated by the birth of a two-headed foal), but Raimi's turn is straight out of Vaudeville.
It all passes the time, but for those expecting a fourth installment in the Evil Dead series, this sorely disappoints.

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