Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jason watches "My Name is Bruce"

As in, Bruce freakin' Campbell, the B-movie god who was there to introduce the movie and chat with SF drag queen/cult movie icon Peaches Christ. Oh yeah, it was a hell of a great night.
First Peaches and her horde of zombie dancers did a little show:
Then a montage of Bruce Campbell highlights, and then the man himself sat down with Peaches for an interview and some questions from the audience:
This is actually the third time I've seen Bruce Campbell live. If you've never seen him live, his "interviews" are more like interactive stand-up comedy. He'll joke with/on the audience (this is the first time I haven't seen him grab someone's cell phone and make a prank call). He likes to repeat every question sarcastically, harangue star-struck fans, hit on the hot girls (even if his wife is in the audience, we all know it's a joke, wink wink), etc. And the combination of the San Francisco audience, Peaches, and the late night really put him at the top of his game, keeping the crowd laughing for a good 45 minutes or so.
Then finally the movie. Bruce Campbell stars as Bruce Campbell, arrogant, drunken b-movie star (I assume an exaggerated version of himself). Some kids in a small Oregon town of Gold Lick desecrate a Chinese-American graveyard, unleashing the Taoist war god Guan Di, who starts killing everyone. The one kid who escapes is a huge Bruce Campbell fan, and assumes based on his cinematic monster-slaying he can save the town. At first Bruce wants nothing to do with it (he wants to stay home and drunk-dial his ex-wife...what a Birthday!). So the kid kidnaps him and drags him to town. Once there, Bruce assumes it's all make believe, a birthday present set up by his agent (played by the ultimate ham Ted Raimi, who is usually hilarious but only gets starring roles in Bruce Campbell productions). So he leads the town on a monster hunt, until he finds out that the monster is real, and he runs the hell away. Hilarity ensues.
It really is a very fun movie, and absolutely full of splatstick comedy and inside jokes for Bruce Campbell fans. As an interesting aside, Guan Di is a real god in Chinese folklore, the spirit of Guan Yu aka Lord Guan of The Three Kingdoms, which I'm almost done reading (this makes the "Guan You, Guan Me, Guan Di" refrain an extra pun). And a little googling revealed that apparently he is the protector of bean curd and bean curd sellers, which is really played up in the movie (his early life as a bean curd seller is not mentioned in The Three Kingdoms). So that was really amusing.
I guess to be a real reviewer I have to mention a couple of things that bug me. First, I have a little pet peeve about scenes where a character is locked in a car trunk. As someone who has ridden in many car trunks (ah, my college years...) I can guarantee the latch mechanism is always easily accessible from inside, and it's never taken me longer than about a minute to find it and let myself out. I know this is just my hang-up, but there's no reason for any character to ever be locked in a car trunk...unless maybe you tie up his hands first.
But the real painful scenes are the ones of Ted Raimi under heavy makeup as an old Chinese man. It's a horrible, horrible stereotype, and I know it's meant as satire and I could try to defend it but the fact is it went over like a lead balloon with this audience and some of the biggest cheers were when he got killed. For people who are sensitive to such racist stereotypes, this could easily kill the movie. For me, it only killed all the scenes he was in (when he isn't on screen, the movie still rocks).
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