Space Trucker Bruce (2014)

Hi all, Nate back with a doozie. Here's a short plot synopsys... In the FUTURE, travel between planets in the Solar System has become as common as a boring Monday afternoon on our modern interstate highways. Specifically, long-haul truckers fly loads of hog fat from Earth to Saturn's moon Titan. Yes, hog fat. No, I don't know why. No, no one does. Schlubby, overweight, slightly-retarded Bruce is one such trucker on a lonely, six months-long, one-man flight across the stars with nothing but his own dreams and fantasies to keep him company. Well, those and a talking tub of sourcream that wants him to commit murder and feed it beans. Oh, and he picks up a hitchhiker along the way, some derpy dweeb who at least speaks Space English. Oh, and they come across an abandoned Space Freighter full of dark secrets and clues to a fortune in Space Diamonds hidden in the asteroid belt. Oh, and there's a half-dead frozen lady on the Space Freighter that they unthaw and take along with them to Titan, mostly because they're bored with watching movies and doing yoga and the girl is pretty good at arts and crafts. Once at Titan Station, Bruce reunites with Katie, his fantasty girlfriend who is way out of his league but the script says is in love with him. In the final scene, Bruce, the hitchhiker, a robot, the frozen girl, and Katie all go off to the asteroid belt to strike it rich with Space Diamonds. Cue closing credits.

Bruce, the guy in the title.

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? It's not, but mostly because this was a “passion project” by a small group of friends who were working with a budget of about $300 and all the public domain Clipart spaceships they could find. You guys can do a lot with a few bucks leftover from you Taco Bell paycheck and your friends from school and I appreciate the effort, even if your movie is miserably bad. I get it, I come from a production background, I know that you aren't going to be making any money off this, it's a labor of love, the true definition of a “hobby”.

Also, you need a better hobby.

Not for nothing, but this entire thing was filmed in Juneau, Alaska, which explains a lot. I went there once when I was much younger, on a backpacking trip with some friends, and at the time I could have written a thousand word essay on the certainty that Juneau was the most infected of civic anus warts in all of North America. And then I lived in Cleveland in the '90s. I'm not sure if that has any bearing on our movie, but I like to think it does.

Bruce hallucinates “babes” on the “beach” in Juneau.

Make no mistake about it, everything about this movie is sub-par, the sets, the props, the stupid drunk-written script, the acting, the VFX, everything sucks like a hungry lamprey at a fish buffet line. But it has the low-budget, high-concept, medium-ability charm that I love so much in b-movies, the very charm that keeps me writing these reviews when I could be sleeping in. So I'm not here to bag on it for visual or artistic reasons, but mostly to offer the director some belated help. The main problem is that your 87 minute runtime is about 45 minutes too long, so let me put out a few suggestions for you...

The digital stuff is ok, I guess, not really.

Things you can keep...

Keep Max The Hitchhiker's role, but you should dramatically shorten his “origin story” because it's a drag. Less time spent with him in his drifting, busted shuttle before Bruce picks him up the better, it does nothing but pad out the runtime and make me want to hate on your movie. And yes yes I know that the director himself plays the Max character, that's no excuse.

Max's default expression.

Keep the varied ways you show Bruce's mile-long decent into Space Madness, just tighten up the editing to give it more (any?) dramatic tension. He's less “slowly losing his mind in the lonely vastness of space” than “slowly reading lines off a script page about him losing his mind in the lonely vastness of space while the camera remains locked down at medium depth for every scene and the lighting and music never varies”. Get what I'm saying here?

Bruce needs professional help.

Keep the Daisy sourcream evil demon, that's truly great. I love how it wants chocolate chips and coffee beans instead of blood sacrifice and virgins, even if the voice-over is Emperor Paltatane on crack. Obviously Bruce made this as a “friend”, and then it turned evil? Is it just Space Madness or is there really something malevolent inhabiting that sourcream tub? Leave that open-ended, it's fun.

I could have made this.

Keep (and add more!) Bruce's amusingly self-aware Katie hallucinations. As it is she shows up in a beach scene (which pulls you out of location too much) and one time on his futon in nothing but a towel. That's a pretty girl, do more with her role. Her hallucination states could become more “real” and viceral as things get stressful for Bruce, she could even become menacing or jealous, or even cold and distant as Bruce's mental state changes. The hallucination character angle can be a great foil for Bruce's wobbly arc. Did I mention she was cute?

Good lord.

Keep the design of the ship and the attached cargo pod. Hog fat? Brilliant! I know it's just a digital model, but it's a very nice model and I like the markings and blinking lights and all. Just spend some extra money and try and blend it into the other elements better, and tone down those superbright points-of-light stars, that's not natural. Maybe some Star Trekish engine droning noises as it flies by?

I want to build this in a resin kit!

Keep Bruce's outfit, very spacetruckery, very country chic, and I love that his John Deer truck has “Galactic” sharpied on duct tape. And I'm glad that the actor playing Bruce actually looks like a shabby Mississippi trucker and not some hipster drama school dropout. And I'm also superhappy, Mister Director, that you didn't cast yourself as the lead character, that would have been a douchebag move.

Yes, that's a puppy screensaver.

Keep the world-building, you certainly tried and respect that. I love the magazines and the board games and the look of the sets and props is also nice, even if most of it is cardboard covered in duct tape, at least the lighting is low enough that you don't notice it that much. There's some nice dialogue that helps set up the general outline of space trucking in the late 21st Century, I do like how you sprinkle that in here and there.

So much duct tape.

Things you should cut...

You should cut out the whole mystery Space Freighter/Space Diamonds/Frozen Girl subplot. The entire movie should be solely about Bruce trying to make it to Titan Station so he can have sex with Katie. Just by eleminating the other stuff you can trim a good 30 minutes off your movie and not lose a thing. Did you think you were going to make a sequel? The continuing adventures of Bruce and his merry band as they search for Space Diamonds? That was never in the cards, bro.

Alien ship looks like a Cosco hallway.

Cut out the frequent sci-fi movie quotes lifted directly from imdb quotes pages, even though you set them up nicely, they're annoying. Random Star Wars quotes show that you are a fan of the genre, but everyone on my brother-in-law's Facebook feed already does that and no one laughs anymore. It doesn't help that you can't actually afford to show anything directly related to those movies without having Disney's lawyers parachute into Juneau and murder you.

Just let them do tai chi in space, ok?

Cut (or reduce) any and all forced attempts at “hard sci-fi”, you are doing a diservice by trying to show how edgy and believable your hardware and technology is, especially since your sci-fi tech is mostly repurposed radiator hoses and a dirty pink futon. All that cheapness should remain in the background where your viewers are less likely to notice it and start laughing uncontrollably. Remember that this is a story about people.

People who build popsicle stick houses.

Cut out anything in Titan Station that doesn't directly involve Bruce meeting up with fantasty-girlfriend Katie. If he's had a long, stressful trip, dreaming about her the whole time, you can mine those audience expectations for anything you like. Will she ignore him? Profess her love for him? Even remember him? Is she way ugiler that he remembered? Is she suddenly smitten with the Hitchhiker instead? You decide.

And move your props out of frame.

Make all that happen and you can have a nice 40 minute short(ish) film that's heavy on psycological tension and weirdness. Dial down the slapstick and the overly-long scene transitions and angle more towards dark comedy with a touch of bittersweet romance, doesn't that sound like a better solution?

The weirdness writes itself.

It could have been worse, I suppose, having read the closing credits and noticed that there were a dozen people listed as having acted in scenes that were cut. Really, you left some chunks on the cutting room floor, whole scenes with groups of actors and everything? If the dragging morass that you did leave in the final cut is any indication, those cut-out scenes must have been pure comedy gold! I now desperately want to see the Extended Director's Cut Special Edition of Space Trucker Bruce, I'd play real (not really) money for that Blu-ray.

Hopefully less of this guy.

Some other things I wanted to mention...

Ha! Mostly Meat Chunks. Ha.

Helper Robot looks like it's running Windows95.


Love the one hallway set used over and over.

The bridge set is glorious.

Some work put into the visual props.

I like how their relationship grows a bit.

Galaxy Trucker board game? Yes, please!

Credits list every single sound file used, nice.

Overall I'd say that Space Trucker Bruce was a noble effort, a flawed effort, but still an effort. Or something.

The End.

Written in May 2017 by Nathan Decker.

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