Monday, May 30, 2016

Movie Review: "MacGruber" (2010)

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Director: Jorma Taccone
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Former special forces soldier MacGruber (Will Forte) is brought out of retirement when a nuclear warhead is stolen by Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), the man who murdered his wife.

Based on a Saturday Night Live sketch, "MacGruber" is directed by Jorma Taccone (of The Lonely Island fame) and stars Will Forte as the titular MacGruber. The character is clearly a parody of TV's MacGyver, as well as an amalgam of a few other characters from television and film, for example, Rambo. Like MacGyver, MacGruber refuses to use guns and has a preference for self-made gadgets instead. Where the two differ, however, is in their personalities. This character is vastly different, and unlike MacGyver, is MacGruber is arrogant, stupid, completely self-centered, and favors cursing. His is also supremely confident in his abilities, which involve a number of things, and even though he has won over a dozen Purple Hearts, how we do not know, his tactics nearly always manage to make things worse than better. He is a constant bumbler and often puts himself into bad situations, even though he can still rip out someone's throat like Dalton in "Road House." MacGruber himself isn't the most likable character and is even a little despicable, but his clueless nature about basic human interactions and his overly complicated means of escape provide for more than a few really big laughs. Luckily, Will Forte is able to create some self-deprecating comedy out of the whole unlikability of his character, and we appreciate the performance he gives in this movie. It's exaggerated, crass, and impolite, but hey, what isn't these days?

We never watched the MacGruber SNL skits, so we didn't have much of a frame of reference going into "MacGruber." Much like most SNL adaptations, the showrunners treat the story like they are introducing the character for the first time, so you won't get lost in the fray. Joining the aforementioned Forte are SNL alumni Kristen Wiig, who plays MacGruber's assistant Vicki St. Elmo, and Maya Rudolph, who plays his wife Casey, as well as Ryan Phillippe as Piper, his partner, and Val Kilmer as the villainous Dieter Von Cunth, whose name becomes a running joke throughout the film from the moment it is first uttered. MacGruber runs around espousing how "it's time to pound some Cunth," and other variations of this phrase get used as well. If you're offended by the real word, well, stay away from this film altogether because once it starts, it never lets up. Kilmer delivers more dry wit and insult style comedy as Cunth, and we actually really like him in this film. Kristen Wiig does her normal, sometimes silly routine, and Phillippe gets to be the straight man to all the craziness going on around him. Of course, it often delves into the lowest common denominator of toilet humor and penis gags, some of which fall flat, though there are a few laughs that squeak by here and there. And speaking of laughs, we did laugh far more than we thought we would, maybe more than we would like to admit.

"MacGruber" really does manage to make us laugh out loud a handful of times, but it also made us audibly groan the same number of times, and the bad outweighs the good here. It's sheer and utter silliness at its best, with a hefty dose of over-the-top violence, a slew of dick jokes, and many continuous, ongoing gags that will likely offend and isolate the majority of viewers in the first 10 minutes. Forte and Wiig are still excellent together, even if this movie is clearly a parody. We cannot fully recommend it because it's mostly idiotic, but it does take full advantage of its R-rating, which we appreciate.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 47%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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