Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2010. Broadway Video, Michaels-Goldwyn, Relativity Media. Screenplay by Will Forte, John Solomon, Jorma Taccone. Cinematography by Brandon Trost. Produced by John Goldwyn, Lorne Michaels. Music by Matthew Compton. Production Design by Robb Wilson King. Costume Design by Susanna Puisto. Film Editing by Jamie Gross.
Lots of rib-tickling fun is to be had with Will Forte‘s smarmy, mulleted character in this adaptation of his SNL skits spoofing the blue-collar glory of eighties B-movie action heroes. His MacGruber always has his mind on the right priorities, making sure America wins and constantly being terrified of his masculinity being undermined, but he’s been out of commission for a while after having given up his work in covert operations to become a monk in Asia. Army brass in the form of established veteran Powers Boothe and rookie Ryan Phillippe show up begging our hero to return to work for the US of A, as the supervillain (played by Val Kilmer) who killed MacGruber’s wife (Maya Rudolph) has stolen a nuclear warhead and only MacGruber, the man who fights with everything but guns, can stop him. Our protagonist at first refuses to admit Philippe on to the team, but when his first group of support muscle is accidentally wiped out in a very funny explosives accident, he accepts the young man’s help along with a reunion with his old Farrah Fawcett-haired friend Kristen Wiig, who gives up her new career in songwriting to get back into the swing of things. There are lots of gags that work, particularly the fact that Wiig is always forced into the craziest of disguises while MacGruber can never actually be brave or smart, but there are plenty that are far too lowbrow and cheap thanks to Forte never deciding if he’s totally committed or commenting on the character. Like many a Saturday Night Live skit turned into a movie, it feels like one joke spread out over a whole film, as the jabs at the white trash aesthetic that made Chuck Norris so popular get repetitive and the film grows tiresome before it actually concludes.