Movie Review: MacGruber
Based on the Saturday Night Live skits, MacGruber is like that one friend everyone has who’s not nearly as funny as he thinks he is. It’s pretty amusing for a little while, but it gets tiresome much quicker than one would hope. In that respect, MacGruber reminds me a lot of Rob Corddry’s character in Hot Tub Time Machine. Unlike Hot Tub, MacGruber lacks the heart, depth and general hilarity to make its lead character worth tolerating.
When Dieter Von Kunth (Val Kilmer) gains control of a massive nuclear warhead, MacGruber (SNL’s Will Forte) is pulled out of hiding after being assumed dead for the past 10 years. Naturally, “the Grubester” rounds up a handful of jacked-up WWE superstars and sets out to stop Kunth. Unfortunately for his team (and wrestling fans), MacGruber is a first-class screw-up and Chris Jericho is the only one who manages a speaking part before they’re accidently disposed of in a fiery explosion. The brief exchange between Jericho and MacGruber is actually one of the funnier scenes in the movie.
Seeing as how he is the world’s only hope, MacGruber is allowed another chance. His new-found desperation and the apparent lack of sizable monsters on the WWE roster force him to assemble group that is both smaller in number and average body mass, albeit decisively much more attractive. Joining him are a straight-laced military officer played by Ryan Philippe and Vicki St. Elmo, a disguise expert of sorts played by Kristen Wiig.
For all its stupidity, MacGruber actually starts out in a pretty funny manner. MacGruber doesn’t use guns, so his unusual tactics include a series of outrageous diversions. We soon find that his off-the-job personality quirks are just as odd as we see him carry his car stereo with him wherever he goes. I have to admit, I loved MacGruber’s taste in sleazy 80s soft rock as well.
Before long, MacGruber‘s decidedly distasteful comedic concoction of ass-gags, vulgar insults and the idiocy of its namesake character begin to lose its luster. You get the feeling that there just wasn’t enough material there for director Jorma Taccone to make a feature-length movie, and everything begins to feel drawn out and stretched just far enough to fill up 90 minutes of film. This feeling culminates with a very thrustful sex scene that’s not nearly as hysterical as the writers intended it to be.
Val Kilmer is fine as the villain, but he’s a far cry from the brilliance that is Jason Patric’s turn in The Losers. It’s just a shame that his star has fallen so far that his career has come down to a reliance on these types of roles for steady work. I mean, this is Iceman we’re talking about. What the hell happened to him?
All things considered, Philippe and Wiig are the most enjoyable members of the cast. While Wiig’s gullible loyalty to MacGruber nearly gets her killed on numerous occasions, Philippe is constantly befuddled by MacGruber’s untraditional methods. Unfortunately, there are only so many times Philippe can save MacGruber’s ass before the angle becomes less than thrilling.
As a sendup to the 80s action genre, MacGruber accomplishes what it sets out to do and offers a handful of solid laughs along the way. There’s been a lot of that going on lately, so I can’t help but wonder if this is really a justifiable release. With movies like The A-Team, The Other Guys and The Expendables on the horizon, MacGruber is as dispensable as one of the Grubester’s homemade grenades.
RIYL: Hot Rod, Austin Powers, Team America: World Police.