During this long holiday weekend, I decided to devote some time watching random movies on my IMDB watch list, and damn are there are lot of them.
I was looking at the titles and decided not to watch some of the headier, more dramatic titles (like Enter the Void or Son of Saul). Instead, I opted for the lighter movies, ones that could be considered to be the exact opposite of a meaty drama, the first film: MacGruber.
MacGruber is a stupid movie that I kinda really enjoyed. It had me laughing hysterically at times, which is hard when you’re watching a movie by yourself with headphones on, and other times left me bored. It’s a mix bag, but for a Saturday Night Live sketch turned into a movie, it’s one of the better ones. Is it Wayne’s World? Of course not. But it’s better than practically every other SNL movie.
MacGruber is a movie directed by Jorma Taccone (of The Lonely Island fame) and written by John Soloman and Will Forte. It stars Will Forte as our titular hero, Kristen Wiig reprising her SNL sketch role as MacGruber’s fellow agent Vicki, Ryan Phillippe as Piper, who is a military officer assigned to work with MacGruber, and Val Kilmer as MacGruber’s arch nemesis Dieter Von Cunth (the jokes involving his last name don’t have a lot of mileage in them). The basic plot of the film is typical 80s action: bad guy (Cunth) steals a nuclear warhead and plans to detonate it for money and MacGruber has to come out of retirement to save the day. And that’s basically what this film is, an action-comedy homage to 80s action movie tropes. Unfortunately it doesn’t reach the height of other loving action satires like Hot Fuzz, but it’s still fun.
And it’s fun due to its cast and the premise. Will Forte gives it his all in the role of MacGruber. As shown in The Last Man on Earth, Will Forte shows he is willing to go the extra mile for a joke, whether it’s vigorously humping a ghost in the middle of a cemetery or distracting a few henchman with a celery stick stuck up his butt. Will Forte excels at cringe humor and playing someone who is arrogant and unintentionally annoying, who could also be described as an ass-hole. But he is always funny playing those types of characters, including MacGruber. Kristen Wiig plays to her comedic strength as Vicki, particularly in a scene where she overreacts and screams and cries in a coffee shop while others stare at her in disbelief and confusion as Vicki thinks she’s hearing her teammates die over her earpiece. Ryan Phillippe is a solid straight man, but he doesn’t have much to do besides listen to MacGruber insult him and be a backboard for Will Forte’s crazy antics. And Val Kilmer is kind of wasted as the villain, who isn’t given a lot of material besides playing a typical villain.
The movie has some great gags spoofing action movie tropes like getting the team back together montage, listing off MacGruber’s military honors and accomplishments that never seem to end, and MacGruber creating bombs (that never work) out of random items a la MacGyver. The movie can be very funny, but those solid jokes were far and few between. There were moments like the poker scene or a final fight scene that had potential to have a lot of jokes, but instead the filmmakers opted for one or two gags that were only okay.
For a silly comedy based on a very one-joke silly SNL character, MacGruber isn’t an awful film. It could have been funnier and could have done more to spoof 80s action movies, but it’s a diverting hour and a half that will make you laugh at times. I wish it was funnier because it could have been a cult classic, instead of just a fun cult movie.