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‘Bruce!!!’: Film Review

A self-styled ladies’ man finds his life unraveling when he falls in love in this comedy starring and directed by Eden Marryshow.

There’s nothing an actor likes better than playing a rogue. Especially a charming one. But making an unlikable character likable is a trickier proposition than it seems. Eden Marryshow (Jessica Jones) makes an arduous attempt in his feature directorial debut, in which he plays the title role of an unemployed actor who gets by thanks to the good graces of family and friends. But his character ultimately proves far more grating than endearing, making Bruce!!! a slog to endure.

When first seen, Bruce is breaking up with his girlfriend, and not too diplomatically. He seems to think he has all the cards, telling a friend, “I want a girl like Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science.” His life becomes upended when his parents finally cut off their financial support and his roommate, Greg (Jason Tottenham), informs him that he’s moving out of their well-appointed Brooklyn apartment to move in with his fiancee (Jade Eshete). Bruce, who’s been working on a screenplay but earns his meager living as a dog walker, concocts a scheme to find a new roommate, specifically one of the sexy female variety, and charge her 80 percent of the rent.

After numerous awkward interviews, he finds what he’s looking for in Kiera (Mle Chester), who is not only gorgeous but also readily succumbs to his sexual advances. Uncharacteristically, Bruce falls head over heels in love, proclaiming, “God spoke to me in my climax.” But when Kiera informs him that she has no interest in a relationship, Bruce experiences an existential crisis and resolves to turn around his life.

Marryshow and co-screenwriter Jesse Wakeman attempt to infuse the proceedings with deadpan humor and are clearly not afraid to make their lead character obnoxious. But they can’t quite make up their minds whether Bruce is an accomplished lothario or an unappealing jerk. One minute he’s proving irresistible to beautiful women (although at least one of them turns out to be much more interested in his apartment’s walk-in closet), the next minute he’s hopelessly striking out while crudely hitting on women at a bar.

At times the ribald humor becomes overly broad, as when Bruce answers an ad for a “casual encounter” and winds up getting far more than he bargained for when the woman turns out to be a dominatrix. And a running gag involving Bruce’s unfortunate encounters with various people while he’s walking dogs falls hopelessly flat.

Nor does the film prove any more successful when it attempts to pull at the heartstrings after Bruce sees the error of his ways. By this point the character has become so irritating that one cares less about his spiritual conversion than simply not being in his company anymore. The sluggish pacing, overlong running time and lengthy gaps between decent gags don’t help matters.

The actor-filmmaker does display sufficient charisma to make one eager to see what he could do with a more interesting role. Unfortunately, the one he has crafted for himself here leaves much to be desired.

Production companies: Pope 3 Enterprises Dream Big, Go Hard!
Distributor: Global Digital Releasing
Cast: Eden Marryshow, Mle Chester, Jason Tottenham, Jade Eshete, Cesa Pledger, Gene Pope, Christopher Gabriel Nunez, Jamie Dunn, Brenda Thomas
Director: Eden Marryshow
Screenwriters: Eden Marryshow, Jesse Wakeman
Producers: Eden Marryshow, Sasha Lewis, Cesa Pledger
Executive producers: Gene Pope, Sasha Lewis, Eden Marryshow
Director of photography: Juan Carlos Borrero
Editor: Maria Cataldo
Composer: Daniel Clive McCallum

101 minutes

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