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: The Ladies Man
By Sean O’Connell