- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t's been a long time since a “Saturday Night Live” skit was turned into a full-length feature, and for good reason. With the exception of a rare few (namely, the first “Wayne’s World”), they’ve all been pretty terrible. Director Jorma Taccone hopes to buck that trend with “MacGruber,” the big screen adaptation of Will Forte’s MacGyver-like secret agent. Though it might seem like the kind of one-joke concept that couldn’t possibly be funny for 88 minutes, “MacGruber” is so unrelenting in its attempt to win over the audience with its childish brand of humor that you can't help but join in the laughter.
MacGruber (Forte) was once regarded as the country’s greatest hero, but in the ten years since the murder of his fiancée (Maya Rudolph), he’s given up his gadget-making days and retreated to South America to live in a monastery. When his old nemesis, Dietrich Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), steals a Russian nuclear warhead with the intention of blowing up the White House, however, MacGruber is persuaded by Col. James Faith (Powers Boothe) to come out of retirement and save the world once again. But after a freak accident results in the death of his team of commando buddies, MacGruber must recruit the help of Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and by-the-books soldier Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) in order to track down the stolen missile and pound some Cunth.
If you laughed at that last bit, then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy “MacGruber,” because the script is positively overflowing with that kind of juvenile wordplay. Co-written by Forte, Taccone, and fellow “SNL” scribe John Solomon, the trio does a surprisingly good job of taking a series of minute-long skits that all invariably end up with MacGruber blowing up and expanding it into a real story. It’s not a particularly great story, mind you, but it gets the job done for a film more concerned with setting up the next big joke. There are a lot of jokes that don’t really warrant more than a snicker, but some of the film’s running gags – including one involving MacGruber’s Blaupunkt car stereo and another where he obsesses over a rude motorist – will leave you in stitches.
Even the jokes that aren’t necessarily funny still work to some degree thanks to the film’s cast. Forte is fearless as the title character (just wait until you get a load of MacGruber’s trademark combat move), perfectly toeing the line between naivety and just plain stupidity, while Kristen Wiig makes the most of her limited screen time. Ryan Phillippe also helps to ground the film as the straight man of the group, and Val Kilmer, despite failing to capitalize on the sheer absurdity of his character, is clearly having a blast playing the villain. Though it gets off to a bit of a rough start, “MacGruber” eventually draws you in with its moronic humor, pulling out all the stops in the name of comedy (and the ratings board). It’s certainly not the funniest film of the year, but it's just funny enough to suggest not every movie based on an “SNL” skit is doomed to fail.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Universal’s Blu-ray release of “MacGruber” is a pretty lackluster affair. Though it comes packaged with a trio of extras, the audio commentary with director/co-writer Jorma Taccone, actor/co-writer Will Forte and co-writer John Solomon is surprisingly tame, while the included deleted scene and gag reel leave much to be desired. Easter egg aficionados will also discover a hidden “commentary” track where a man describes the entire movie as it unfolds, but it’s a gag that’s only funny for the first few minutes.