Mark Reviews Movies


2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Jorma Taccone

Cast: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer, Powers Boothe, Maya Rudolph

MPAA Rating: R (for strong crude and sexual content, violence, language and some nudity)

Running Time: 1:30

Release Date: 5/21/10

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Review by Mark Dujsik | May 21, 2010

Shifting on the spot from blatant parody to the ridiculous, MacGruber is full to the brim with jokes. The majority of them don't work that well, but there are a few solid guffaws to be had.

Working from the "Saturday Night Live" sketch involving a MacGyver wannabe who always manages to blow up himself and anyone else with the misfortune of being in his immediate vicinity, the movie unsuccessfully attempts laughs from a string of scatological references and successfully gets them every so often in exploring just how much of an idiot its hero really is.

MacGruber (Will Forte) is his name, and it's his only name, as evidenced by his personnel file ("American hero," "explosives expert," and "skilled lover," it reads). He, his old partner and fellow flannel-shirt-wearer Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig), and straight-laced military man Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) are on the hunt for a stolen nuclear warhead.

That devastating device is in the hands of Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), and in the movie's opening act, it's difficult to tell whether writers Forte, John Solomon, and Jorma Taccone (also the director) assumed the hero or the villain's name was funny enough to repeat over and over again. Both get old really fast.

After a string of botched missions to get a hold of the bad guy really make the point of how dense MacGruber is in fairly predictable ways, the movie starts to hit a stride by ignoring the action scene scenarios and letting us get to see the depths of his idiocy. When Piper asks why Dieter wants to kills him, MacGruber says he's not sure, then proceeds to tell the history of their relationship, which involves cheating on the guy's girlfriend and other worthy reasons to hold a grudge.

Taccone occasionally wrests some humor out of the age-old clichés. A sex scene that's set up exactly like one out of the '80s (dreamy, unlikely lighting, a Mr. Mister song on the soundtrack, and lots of close-ups) turns into an extended bit of awkwardness, as the veil drops, leaving MacGruber to be his "skilled" self. He and his commanding officer (Powers Boothe) get into the same fight a couple of times, the movie's soundtrack (hard rock) transitions into MacGruber's personal one (soft rock), and his promise of "throat-ripping" is fulfilled a few times too many.

The movie ignores the rule of three, instead repeating its best jokes just enough for them to funny the second time around. Unfortunately, MacGruber's best jokes are few and far between. Plus, there's a certain level of weakness in not including the punch-line of the original sketch.

Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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