The album peaked at #14 on the US Billboard 200 album chart. Leadoff single "Respect Yourself," a duet with June Pointer featuring background vocals by the Pointer Sisters, was a hit. It peaked at #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and number 7 in the UK Singles Chart. Follow-up singles "Young Blood" and "Under the Boardwalk" did not fare nearly as well, peaking at #68 and #59, in the US respectively. Though "Under the Boardwalk" fared poorly in the US, in the UK it was a different matter, as the single reached #2 in the charts and became the UK's 12th best-selling single of 1987.
Reviews of the album were mixed. In February, 1987, People magazine gave the album a B+, while calling Willis' cover of "Under the Boardwalk" "surprisingly okay", noting additionally that the album "shows us that he (Willis) can't shout songs quite as well as Don Johnson. So Springsteen he ain't. Funny he is."Allmusic observes that Willis "doesn't quite have the conviction or skill of the Blues Brothers", adding that The Return of Bruno is today little more than a kitsch artifact.