a critiQal film review MacGruber (2010)

Plot: In the 10 years since his fiancée was killed, super special operative MacGruber (Forte) has sworn off a life of fighting crime with his bare hands. But when he learns that his country needs him to find a nuclear warhead that's been stolen by his nemesis (Kilmer), MacGruber figures he's the only one tough enough for the job.

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  • ...this load of trash should have stayed as a skit on "SNL" (TV)

I was in the mood for a comedy today, and chose MacGruber. Sure, “Saturday Night Live” (TV) skits turned into feature-length movies haven’t been good since Wayne’s World (1992), but I’d heard this one was dumb (of course) but actually funny, so I decided to give it a try. At least it didn’t star Will Ferrell, right?

Will Forte heads up the cast as the titular character in MacGruber. While he seems decent enough as an actor for this type of film, his character makes him easy to hate. A complete moron, and an oxymoron (he survived numerous tours of duty in all the hot spots, but never learned how to use a gun?), his character is just downright awful. And with MacGruber being so clueless, it’s hard to find where the audience can find a person to latch onto, just to hold their interest.

Kristen Wiig, who has gone on to bigger things (Bridesmaids (2011)), shows she’s a decent actor in MacGruber. The scenes she has without MacGruber are easily the best in the film, but sadly, that’s not saying much. The whole film seems to be haunted by the ghost of decent comedy (and no, that’s not Maya Rudolph), and even Wiig’s efforts fail to overcome that.

Ryan Phillippe, at first, seems like he’s going to be the hero the audience is looking for in MacGruber. Unfortunately, by the time he’s parading around half-naked with a piece of celery sticking out of him, viewers will have discovered that his heyday is obviously long past, and he’s just demeaning himself by being in this film. Same goes for Val Kilmer. Ah guys, viewers know you can do better. Why this?

Powers Boothe is about the only one to escape totally unscathed from the mess that is MacGruber. Even as his character shrugs off the bizarre mumbling of MacGruber, he seems to wash his hands off the whole comedy thing, and just play his character as a straight-up military guy. And, despite the catastrophe around him, comes through the film without too much tarnish.

Obviously a play on “MacGyver” (TV), MacGruber at first seems to have all the elements it needs for a decent plot. A clueless buffoon who obviously has some skills (the aforementioned tours of duty), basically missing out on the past decade and showing up to face his old-fashioned nemesis to save the world. Sounds good right? Yeah, that’s because it’s basically the plot of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997).

Unfortunately, MacGruber takes that plot, decides to remove any and all redeeming characteristics from its main character, and aim incredibly low with the humor. If viewers though Fat Bastard was disgusting in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), the uncomfortable factor with some of the ridiculous so-called “comedic moments” of this film will have them turning their heads in embarrassment for the actors. Sadly, those scenes pop up more and more as the film progresses, and make the fart jokes in Scooby-Doo (2002) seem like highbrow humor in comparison.

On a surprising note, MacGruber seems to have an odd bond with WWE, as many of the big stars of the time make their way from their regular shows “WWE Raw” (TV) and “WWE SmackDown Live” (TV) to put in an appearance (however brief) in this film. It’s weird and doesn’t make any sense, but hey, at least it’s not The Nanny.

Just plain bad and unfunny through and through, MacGruber is a film that never should have been made. Tarnishing the reputations of once big names like Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer, this load of trash should have stayed as a skit on “Saturday Night Live” (TV), a show that has seen itself slide into more and more unfunny territory as the years have progressed. Sadly, however, MacGruber isn’t the worst “Saturday Night Live” (TV) has to offer on the big screen – as far as I know, A Night at the Roxbury still has that dubious honor. But this film tries really hard to put up a fight for it.

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