The history of cinematic comedy is rife with jerks who learn their lessons and grow up, but to win over audiences, those clowns usually had to exhibit at least a glimmer of down-deep goodness — not to mention partake in bad behavior that was actually amusing. The protagonist of the emphatically punctuated “Bruce!!!!” fails on both those counts, coming across as a grating boor who cares only about himself and never manages to say or do anything the least bit funny. Though writer-director-star Eden Marryshow is an agreeable screen presence, his indie feature is unlikely to win over many during its limited theatrical run.
Bruce (Marryshow) is a Brooklyn-based lout and mooch dressed in a collection of preppy outfits, and from the get-go, he rubs just about everyone the wrong way, including his current girlfriend, whom he dumps after she’s spent all night cooking him cupcakes; his exasperated parents; his supportive best friend and roommate Greg (Jason Tottenham); and Greg’s fed-up fiancée Kerri (Jade Eshete). While he has dreams of being an actor, Bruce puts no effort into making that career a reality, instead opting to earn a paltry living as a dog-walker. The only area in which he proves a success is with women, who repeatedly, and improbably, fall victim to his smooth-talking charms — this despite the fact that he’s constantly acting like a buffoon in front of them as well.
From long-time fling Meredith (Cesa Pledger), who keeps sleeping with Bruce against her better judgment, to unhinged Gwen (Jamie Dunn), who demands that Bruce choke her during the sex they have five minutes after meeting, to his eventual new roommate Keira (Mlé Chester), females can’t help themselves around Bruce, which feels a lot like wish-fulfillment on the part of “Bruce!!!!,” given how diligently it depicts its main character as a creep. Which would, of course, be easier to take if it did so in a humorous manner. Marryshow and Jesse Wakeman’s script, however, refuses to make Bruce insanely wild or understatedly droll, instead opting for a middle ground in which he’s just a loud-mouthed stunted adolescent with a habit of profanely ranting at anyone in his orbit.
Whether lying to his parents in order to borrow money or alienating Greg when he’s not chosen to be godfather to his friend’s forthcoming child, Bruce is a mirthless me-firster whose company you wouldn’t want to keep for five minutes. That impression is only amplified by his crassness, which emerges during a few anal-rape-related jokes that reek of homophobia, as well as an online dating tryst that comes to involve some unexpected toys. “Bruce!!!!” is a saga about a man-child who matures, but such low points feel downright regressive, no matter how much Marryshow intends them to be emblematic of Bruce’s hilarious inappropriateness.
Juan Carlos Borrero’s cinematography is as drab as the cast’s uniformly mechanical performances, and Daniel Clive McCallum’s score seems to appear and disappear on a whim, all of which contributes to the material’s general lack of rhythm, propulsion, or polish. The film moves along lackadaisically, without any knack for establishing scenarios, or setting up punchlines, that might lead to laughs — which, in turn, often makes it play like an enervating drama. “Bruce!!!!” makes a lot of verbal noise, but it says nothing worth remembering.