My Name is Bruce (2007)

(On Cable TV, November 2015) Is it still a dumb B-movie if it knows and celebrates that it’s a dumb B-movie?  My Name is Bruce offers an easy answer to that question (“YES!”) but doesn’t necessarily dismiss the follow-up question: Are we wasting our lives watching dumb B-movies?  Much of the answer that that question, in the case of this film, will hinge on whether you like Bruce Campbell in his full self-aware auto-referential glory.  Here, a Bruce Campbell caricature (obviously played by Bruce Campbell, who also directs and co-produces) is asked for help by a small town terrified of a monster it unleashed.  But Campbell-the-character is an incorrigible lecherous coward who’s going to have to grow up quickly if he’s to defeat the menace and escape with his life.  The formula here couldn’t be more familiar, and even the film’s winking self-awareness doesn’t exactly make it anything but a low-budget dumb B-movie.  Campbell does have quite a bit of self-deprecating charm, but it may not be sufficient to convince those in the audience who have previously come to the conclusion that shlock is shlock, no matter how often it acknowledges that it’s shlock.  (If it didn’t want to be shlock, then it should feel free to be something else.)  My Name is Bruce can be amusing, but it can also be exasperating in the way it recycles most of the clichés in the book, wallows in low-budget production techniques and can’t be bothered to go beyond the most obvious jokes.  There’s clearly a financial calculation here (as is; how cheaply can the movie be made and still bring in a profit or intangible fan love for Campbell?) that doesn’t help My Name is Bruce distinguish itself from the very type of movie it’s trying to skewer.  Campbell is, bluntly speaking, much better than this.  But he has accurately figured out that this is his bread-and-butter, and that fans of those movies are the ones most likely to flock to a movie directed by Campbell.  It’s perilously close to a vanity project, but at least Campbell fans will get exactly what they say they want from him. 

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