Directed by: Jorma Taccone
Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer
Released date: May 21, 2010
Okay, so movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches have a spotty history at best. For every Wayne’s World, there’s an It’s Pat!. So there’s usually a sense of trepidation when one of these movies comes out. Sure, a character may work in 7 minutes sketches, but does that mean the joke can sustain itself for 90 minutes? And more to the point does the new big screen version of MacGruber work over the course of this movie? Let’s find out.
MacGruber is a send up of the 80’s action show MacGyver, everyone’s favorite Canadian science action man. On the show, MacGruber (Will Forte), his assistant Vicki (Kristen Wiig), and the week’s guest star usually find themselves locked in a room with a bomb that MacGruber invariably fails to deactivate. In the film version, MacGruber is brought out of retirement to take down his arch nemesis, Dieter Von Kunth (Val Kilmer). Kunth has hijacked a nuclear weapon, and it’s up to MacGruber and his team to take him down.
Let’s be honest about this film for a moment; this is not a “smart” comedy. It doesn’t try to be, it doesn’t want to be, and it revels in the fact that it is a dumb comedy filled with dick and fart jokes. Multiple times you will see a man walk around with a piece of celery in his ass. So know this walking in that this is a dumb comedy, but it is dumb comedy at its finest. If you’re with a bunch of friends who like 80’s movies, who are not too stuck up to laugh at bad one liners, you will have fun with this movie. If you’re not a fan of low brow humor, then you should probably stay away from this.
All of the actors are pretty good in this film. Will Forte and Kristen Wiig have worked together long enough and you can just tell they are comfortable with each other. I’m not the biggest fan of Wiig, and I still think she may be the weak comedy link in this film, but she does have a few funny moments, and she mostly stays out of Forte’s way so he can get the big laughs. The real treat here is Val Kilmer, who started out in his career doing comedy and has gone back to it from time to time. He uses his personality well here, and a lot of his humor just comes from seeing a very serious Val face off against this completely insane character. In my opinion, Kilmer should only do comedy, but what do I know?
This is a movie that moves forward with a lot of momentum. There’s not too many slow moments which is very much a good thing in this kind of comedy, because you can’t stop for any length of time or the viewer will start thinking and then they will stop laughing. The movie is competently directed, but there’s nothing really spectacular about it. Director Jorma Taccone knows just to frame the shots so the characters can tell their jokes, and then he gets out of the way. He does a good job of making this feel like an 80’s action movie, from the camera moves, to the soundtrack (which creates a lot of good comedy itself). Again, if this is the kind of comedy you like, then this is the film for you, but stay away if you have no interest in it.
There is no great lesson to learn from MacGruber, but if you’re looking to laugh for an hour and a half I think there’s a lot to enjoy about it. This is just a fun, goofy comedy that isn’t looking to make a big statement, it just want to make you laugh at a guy trying to defuse a bomb with a paperclip and a bottle cap. It may not be the funniest movie ever, it may not even be the funniest movie based on a SNL sketch ever, but everyone I saw it with had a good time. Get a bunch of friends, have a few cold ones, and have a good time with it. If you want to find a serious comedy with well though out characters, you won’t find them here, but you will find a movie that will make you laugh. I’m giving this one a 4 out of 5, which may be generous, but when I think about the film, all I can remember is laughing through most of it, so I’m going with how I feel. Now, somebody hand me a paperclip, I’ve got a bomb to defuse.