368 pages, St. Martin's Griffin
Review by Hereward L.M. Proops
There are two types of people in this world: those who don't know who Bruce Campbell is and those who worship him. B-movie regular, star of Sam Raimi's “The Evil Dead” trilogy and Don Coscarelli's “Bubba Ho-Tep”, Campbell might not have enjoyed A-list success but his colourful acting CV has made him a genre icon and a staple on the convention circuit. He has also made quite a profitable career of mocking himself, from playing a washed-up version of himself in “My Name is Bruce” to his hilarious autobiography “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor”.
Like the bastard offspring of his autobiography and “My Name is Bruce”, “Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way” is a self-effacing comic novel which follows the misadventures of Campbell's fictional self after he is cast in an A-list Hollywood romantic comedy. The fictional movie in which the fictional Campbell is cast is titled “Let's Make Love”. Directed by Mike “The Graduate” Nicholls and starring Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger, the movie seems a guaranteed box-office success. However, when Campbell is cast as Foyl the Doorman, his very presence on-set seems to taint the production with his B-movie sensibilities. Subjected to numerous re-writes, the film's heartfelt dialogue is replaced with slapstick fight scenes and expensive camera-work is replaced with shaky hand-held shots.
Campbell's attempts to get a better grasp of the character of relationship expert Foyl lead him into a series of adventures. Campbell finds himself an unwilling participant in an adult movie, fights a duel at a Southern Gentlemen's Club, locates John Dillinger's preserved penis in the Smithsonian Museum and helps organise a NASCAR-themed wedding. His repeated run-ins with the authorities during this time leads to him becoming public enemy number one, culminating in a ridiculous gun-fight at the novel's climax.
Consistently amusing and occasionally hilarious, “Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way” is a highly enjoyable read. The novel is full of humorous photographs and graphics to illustrate the action of the story and Campbell's ability to sustain the paper-thin plot over 300 pages pays testament to his skill as a writer. The plot moves along at a fair pace and Campbell is more than generous with his celebrity cameos (Jack Nicholson's pitch for a “Chinatown” sequel is guaranteed to raise a chuckle). Being a work of fiction, readers shouldn't expect any great insight into Hollywood or expect to learn much about the “real” Bruce Campbell. On the cover copy of the book, Campbell points out that “everything in the book actually happened – except for the stuff that didn't.”
Ultimately, the amount of enjoyment a reader gets out of this book will depend upon how much they like Bruce Campbell. If you haven't heard of Bruce Campbell (shame on you!), this book probably isn't the best place to start. To the uninitiated, I'd recommend they grab a DVD of “The Evil Dead II” or “Bubba Ho-Tep” and prepare to enter B-movie heaven. Fans of Campbell's movies will doubtless get a kick out of this goofy adventure and it is thoroughly refreshing to see an actor try something different rather than opting for yet another cookie-cutter ghost-written memoir. He's not the best writer on earth (if the truth be told, neither is he the best actor) but the book's energy, charisma and wit explain why Bruce Campbell's popularity endures.
Hereward L.M. Proops