Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way (2005)

     Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way (2005) marks Bruce Campbell's first venture into humorous fiction (his first book being a memoir on how a guy from Michigan ended up a B-Movie icon with not a lot of extra money to show for it).  Knowing that Campbell's humor runs not just towards the lowbrow but to the most repetitive slapstick the Three Stooges ever performed, I didn't have high expectations for this.  Sure, Campbell is a literate guy – he has at least been reading scripts in all that time as an actor and director – but I did not expect him to be able to build a compelling narrative without dedicating some serious time to honing this new craft.
     In fact, there is not really much of a plot to Make Love!; it really is composed around a handful of recurring ideas.  Rather than tell the story in a conventional manner, Campbell intersperses his supposedly focal idea – he has been cast as the third major character in an A-list Hollywood movie (filming in New York) – with sketches that really have nothing to do with the story except to show how wacky Campbell's fake life is.  These asides (for the most part) end up being better than the story about Campbell destroying Mike Nichols' movie. 
     The best part of the book – sorry, Bruce – are the worked-up photos and gag visuals.  These were what led me to laugh out loud repeatedly.  Not so much for Campbell being inserted into numerous alternate personae but the fake signs and such.  So much better than the disasters that came out from Jon Stewart (and The Daily Show writers) that one has to wonder if Campbell and Craig "Kif" Sanborn have struck a rare kind of comic gold by working together.
     The only part of the book that I actively didn't like was when Campbell confused Dungeons & Dragons with hide and go seek.  For a guy who has appeared at numerous gaming conventions (and game fairs), and who would be age appropriate for AD&D's heyday, this was a real letdown.  I was also surprised that in his acknowledgements Campbell didn't thank (or even acknowledge) Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger, or Mike Nichols; if one is going to use real people in ficticious situations – like having Gere happily cheat on his wife – that person should probably give them some mention or thanks.
    I don't know that anyone who isn't a fan of Campbell-the-actor who would ever find reason to read this, but it isn't bad.  It just isn't very mature.  Maybe that is part of Campbell's charm, that he can be fake smarmy while retaining his innocent immaturity.  It works, for the most part, here.

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