By Sean O’Connell
MacGruber (*1/2 out of 4)
If Pixar and its animated output is Hollywood’s safest bet, then full-length features derived from brief “Saturday Night Live” skits have to be the industry’s riskiest gamble. It’s possible you’ll end up with a “Blues Brothers” or a “Wayne’s World,” comedies that extend their single-joke premise and expand the universe for their potentially amusing characters. But more often than not, you’re destined for an unimaginative dud like “The Ladies Man,” “It’s Pat,” “A Night at the Roxbury,” “Superstar” and, now, “MacGruber.” Why do studios continue to green light such projects? Russian roulette players have better survival rates.
The running gag in a “MacGruber” sketch is that the incompetent hero, played by Will Forte as a poor-man’s version of Richard Dean Anderson’s television adventurer MacGuyver, usually explodes right before he does something lewd or ridiculous. In a recent episode, a bomb MacGruber meant to disarm goes off right before he French kisses his grandmother (Betty White).
Without network censors breathing down their necks, Forte and his team (which includes writer-director Jorma Taccone and co-writer John Solomon) are able to show you how far they’re willing to go in a “MacGruber” sketch. It ain’t pretty. What starts as a smart send-up of 1980s action thrillers — with the deepest homage paid to Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo series — rapidly devolves into the usual, disgusting piss and shit jokes writers use as lame crutches. If MacGruber has his back against the wall and he feels he has exhausted all options, he’ll graciously offer to give another man a blowjob. In fact, he won’t take no for an answer. And when MacGruber needs to distract heavily armed terrorists, he strips naked and sticks a stalk of celery up his ass. Do these jokes make you laugh? You’re in luck. They’ll be repeated multiple times throughout this blessedly short “comedy.”
There’s not much to say about the acting in “MacGruber.” Forte’s his earnest, uninformed self, though he does affect an aggressive side when he stands off against Ryan Phillippe, cast as an all-American soldier and the straight man to Forte’s renegade. Phillippe’s presence kind of strips the usually funny Kristen Wiig of any motivation. She’s supposed to be MacGruber’s right-hand woman, but then she morphs into his love interest. She looks like she wishes she had funnier lines. So does Val Kilmer, who has a few inconsequential scenes as MacGruber’s arch nemesis, Dieter [...]
Tag Archives: A Night at the Roxbury
By Sean O’Connell
Justin Timberlake has joined the cast of Columbia Pictures’ comedy Bad Teacher starring along with Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, and Lucy Punch, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach, presidents of Columbia Pictures. Eric Stonestreet from “Modern Family” and Molly Shannon have also joined the cast of the comedy, which centers on an irreverent middle school teacher. Directed by Jake Kasdan and written by Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky, the film is produced by Mosaic’s Jimmy Miller and begins production later this month.
Commenting on the announcement, Belgrad said, “With Justin, Molly and Eric, joining Cameron, Jason, Lucy and the rest of this dream comedy cast, we couldn’t be more excited about this movie. We love what we’ve seen of Justin’s performance in David Fincher’s The Social Network and he is a perfect match for this role.”
Justin Timberlake will play a key role as a substitute teacher, the scion of a watch fortune.
The comedy is being overseen at Columbia by Belgrad and Jonathan Kadin. For film related endeavors, Timberlake is represented by Rick Yorn, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, WME and Ziffren Brittenham LLP.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE has gained great acclaim for his acting roles. He has won two Emmy Awards related to appearances on “Saturday Night Live” including Outstanding Music and Lyrics for the highly memorable SNL Digital Short “Dick in a Box.” He will next star in Columbia Pictures’ The Social Network for director David Fincher as Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster. Timberlake has also starred in such films as the crime drama Alpha Dog, Black Snake Moan, and Southland Tales. He also voiced a starring role in the animated hit Shrek the Third.
MOLLY SHANNON spent six seasons as a member of the repertory company on “Saturday Night Live,” primarily known for the eclectic characters she created, such as Mary Katherine Gallagher. She is also praised for her parodies of Courtney Love, Liza Minnelli, Monica Lewinsky and Meredith Vieira. She was most recently seen in the NBC comedy “Kath & Kim” and Lifetime’s movie “More of Me,” starring opposite Steven Weber. Her feature film credits include a moving performance in Mike White’s Year of the Dog, as well as Gray Matters, Shut Up & Sing, Evan Almighty, Little Man, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Superstar (portraying everybody’s favorite Catholic schoolgirl, Mary Katherine Gallagher, a [...]