MacGruber (2010)

19 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: **

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Let me just put this out of the way. “MacGruber” is not one of the worst SNL-sketch adaptations. But then again, it’s not one of the best either. This is a slick but sort-of depraved action-comedy with an unlikable hero and jokes that are mostly hit-and-miss. Sure there were parts when I laughed but even those were chuckles when all I wanted was to laugh out loud. I am a fan of the original sketch that runs on “Saturday Night Live.” For those who aren’t familiar with the sketch, it features Will Forte as a low-rent MacGyver named MacGruber (complete with blond mullet and said in one of the sketches to be MacGyver’s son), who in each sketch is caught along with his partner (Kristen Wiig) in desperate situations in which he must defuse a bomb with household materials and yet is always distracted. The sketches are funny and made with a great deal of energy humor.

It should come as no surprise that the director of the film adaptation to the sketches (named “MacGruber”) is Jorma Taccone. What does surprise me, however, is how less he has to work with here and how much more he could’ve made out of the material, given the energy and creativity and humor of the SNL Digital Shorts he co-creates with Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg (all three are the Lonely Island; Schaffer is an executive producer here).

What also surprises me is how much of a jerk MacGruber is. If one of the characters were to say that about MacGruber in the film, they would not say “jerk.” They would’ve used the seven-letter word for “jerk.” There is a great deal of profanity in this R-rated movie; f-bombs are being dropped and even the main villain’s name can’t be said. His name is Dieter van C^%#@h (use your imagination but do not say it out loud). But back to what I was trying to get across at the beginning of this paragraph. In the sketch, you would get a few guesses that MacGruber might be a jerk but you wouldn’t care because you’d be laughing at how goofy he is. But here, Will Forte plays MacGruber as a man who uses his own partner as a shield from gunfire, rips out unsuspecting guards’ throats, and acts as if he wants everyone to take a hike.

I guess I can say that Will Forte, very funny on “Saturday Night Live,” plays the main character very well. He does show some potential as a comedic actor. For example, there’s a scene in which he distracts security guards for the villain by stripping naked and walking towards them with his hands covering his privates and a stick of celery sticking out of his rear end. I also like how he takes his car radio with him every time he steps out of his Ferrari and how he fires a machine gun. He looks as if it’s the first time he’s ever fired one.

Showing more comedic charisma are Forte’s co-stars Kristen Wiig (always fabulous), reprising her role as MacGruber’s assistant Vicki St. Elmo, and Ryan Philippe as the straitlaced Lt. Dixon Piper. They play off Forte very well as comedic foils. I especially liked how Wiig, in one scene, shows her comedic talent in a scene set in a restaurant while disguised as MacGruber. She’s really funny here. I also liked her doing the countdowns in a few bits when they’re needed. Ryan Philippe is good as the lieutenant who, in one scene, is used as a human target when MacGruber is attacked. “How’d you know I was wearing a bulletproof vest?” “You were wearing a bulletproof vest?!”

You may have heard those quotes in the trailer. With the exception of that stick of celery, just about every amusing bit from this movie is in the trailer. That’s always a bad move. It inspires people to ask the question, “Why didn’t I just watch the trailer so many times?”

Oh I should also mention the name of the actor who plays the profanely named villain. Well, it’s Val Kilmer and he’s suitably slimy in a role that requires him to be a standard action movie villain. The movie’s main plot involves MacGruber taking down this bad guy who stole a nuclear missile to blow up Washington, DC. What he’s planning on accomplishing, I don’t know. Oh and I should also point out that the reason Maya Rudolph was only in the first MacGruber sketch and never seen again is not that Rudolph left the show (although that is true) but because the villain in this movie killed her character. (Maya Rudolph shows up in a flashback for a cameo.)

I have to say I smiled at the beginning of “MacGruber.” When the opening credits rolled and we first see MacGruber in a montage, I smiled widely when the music turned into an orchestra version of the “MacGruber” theme song. And then the choir ended it with “MacGruber…he made a f—ing movie! MacGruber!” I thought for sure I was in for a treat. What I got was not one of the worst SNL adaptations but definitely one of the best. Maybe if Jorma Taccone had spent more time giving us more of MacGruber’s origins and gave us more of his goofiness. Instead, we get MacGruber in one bizarre sex scene and strangely enough, I think MacGruber only made one explosive device in this entire hour-and-a-half movie. Only one. Too bad it didn’t work.

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