Run time: 90 min
Genres: Action | Comedy
Director: Jorma Taccone
Writers: Will Forte, John Solomon
Stars: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer
In the Dzhugdzhur Mountains, Eastern Siberia, the criminal Dieter Von Cunth steals a Russian X5 nuclear warhead. Colonel James Faith travels to Rio Bamba, Ecuador, with the efficient Lieutenant Dixon Piper to summon the retired special operative MacGruber to retrieve the X5. MacGruber is considered deceased after the death of his beloved wife Casey by his archenemy Cunth in their wedding. MacGruber teams up with Piper and Vicki St. Elmo and they learn that the evil Cunth intends to use the warhead to destroy Washington D.C. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Plot Keywords: washington d.c., nuclear warhead, team, lieutenant, colonel|
Release Date: 18 June 2010 (UK)
Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $4,043,495 (USA) (21 May 2010)
Gross: $8,460,995 (USA) (4 June 2010)
Seeing as there are only 14 reviews at the time of writing this, I decided to add my say.
Most importantly this movie needs to be viewed as it is intended. It is a parody of what I'll dub as the 80's action sub-genre. Parodies have to be measured on a separate scale. In my opinion they're generally silly movies with goofy characters, ridiculous plots, and a few cringe-worthy moments. They are this way because of their nature; they exist to poke fun at prior works or themes. The good parodies are really enjoyable, and I classify MacGruber as a good parody.
I saw this at my local theater last night and while there weren't many other viewers, there was an almost steady stream of laughs throughout the movie. MacGruber picks up fast and lays out the comedy. There weren't any lapses where I was checking my watch.
However, to enjoy this movie you must be able to stomach some raunch. More than once I instinctively put my hand over my eyes shaking my head in somewhat disbelief that they "went there." However, at each of these times, I was still laughing, as was much of the audience. This movie pushes the limits, but if you can handle it, you'll come out with a smile on your face and chuckle as you think back on the ridiculousness of it all.
A full-length film version of a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch may seem anachronistic these days; after all, it seemed the SNL movie finally died out way back in 1999/2000 with the one-two TKO of SUPERSTAR and THE LADIES MAN. The problems were obvious: even a talented cast and crew can rarely stretch out a three or four minute skit that hinged on the personality of the performer as he or she ran through the same joke again and again. I can think of only two times it did – THE BLUES BROTHERS and WAYNE'S WORLD. These films worked because their subject matter allowed for a larger story to unfold.
Lorne Michael's subsequent production efforts have taken the smarter tack. They build new stories around established talents, with the result that we go into the film with familiarity, to be sure, but also a sense of fun and surprise at what our favorite comedians might cook up. Tina Fey has really taken the ball and run with it in her backstage-at- SNL-show "30 Rock", realizing that after a while, all comedy sketches seem the same and the audience wants a different perspective. Meanwhile MACGRUBER co-writer and director Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg and Akiva Goldsman (together The Lonely Island), have become the most popular act on SNL by largely ignoring its conventions and doing what they want. Samberg's on-air sketches are mostly forgettable, but he shines in LI's genre-skewing short videos.
Taccone and company know how to tap cultural cliché like no one else working today. They represent a new type of humor at work in American comedy – one that lovingly wallows in cultural familiarity and the ironic potential therein. In an age of YouTube and instant dissemination of, well, everything, they know that the best way to reach the widest audience at a level that truly connects is through their pop umbilical cords.
Will Forte's "MacGruber" sketches follow an identical formula: MacGruber, a hyper skilled MacGyver parody (we learn in the opening of the film that he has something like 16 Purple Hearts and four Medals of Honor, and has somehow served multiple tours of duty as a member of every branch of the armed forces) is trapped in a control room of some bad guy's lair with his assistant, Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and a third person played by that week's guest star. Plus a bomb with a 20 second timer. MacGruber sets to work using household items to defuse the bomb, but invariably becomes distracted, largely due to his own hubris and general cluelessness, and the bomb explodes. Forte and Taccone wisely dispense with this template until very late in the game, instead constructing a plot in which MacGruber is free to run wild. Thus: rich evil guy Dieter Von Cunth (Kilmer, having a ball) steals a nuclear missile which he intends to use on Washington, D.C. His motives are unimportant. What is important is that there's only one guy who can stop him: MacGruber. In an opening scene recalling RAMBO III (tellingly, the stupidest one), MacGruber's former commanding officer (Powers Boothe) tracks down the titular hero at a monastery in Ecuador, where he's spent the last ten years in seclusion following the death of his bride at the altar. She was blown up by Cunth. It was messy. It takes some convincing, and a team-assembling montage gone horribly, horribly wrong, but pretty soon MacGruber's back in action and taking the fight to the enemy.
Support is provided by Kristen Wiig as Vicki St. Elmo, a woman as strangely trapped in 1989-era style as MacGruber, as well as Ryan Phillippe as Lt. Dixon Piper, who actually seems to know what he's doing, if he can ever get through to MacGruber, whose home-made tactics not only generally fail to work, but often make things worse. Phillippe, Booth, and even Kilmer stand in for the audience as straight men, scratching their heads at MacGruber's insanity. Taccone and Forte give them lines that echo almost exactly what the average audience member might be thinking when MacGruber distracts some baddies by stripping down and utilizing a piece of celery in an interesting way. And yet it works. It makes sense. What's surprising is the rawness of the film: freed from the limitations of live network television, Taccone and Forte work to earn their R-rating. Boy, do they. MacGruber is a foul-mouthed near-deviant whose dedication to his country is matched only by his penchant for public nudity.
Forte is a dynamo on screen, showing that he, like Will Ferrell and others before him, will do absolutely anything to get a laugh, no matter how potentially embarrassing. While some of these gags might push the bounds of taste MacGruber has a thing for "throat rips" and the less said about his methods in the bedroom, the better Forte's exuberance for the character shines through. It's this commitment to the bit that helps MACGRUBER immensely. It's all absurd, parodic, and ultimately pointless, but it's a very entertaining 90 minutes. Taccone and Forte have great fun messing with the conventions of action movies in general and "MacGyver" in particular, though I doubt MacGyver ever offered to fellate a man to accomplish the mission. The film looks and sounds fine, and Taccone has made a smooth transition from short form music video parodies to action cinema; he's still got some things to learn, but he's definitely got chops. The best thing that can be said of MACGRUBER is that in the end, the intelligence and cleverness of its creators situate this film happily much closer to the work of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg than to the Butabi Brothers.
Let's hope this is the next step in a journey back for Lorne Michaels to producing quality comedy. Somewhere, John Belushi is smiling.
I saw this movie last night and it was absolutely hilarious. I wasn't a fan of the sketch on SNL and was scared off by the poor reviews and its box office failure, but let me tell you this movie is really, really funny. I suppose its not for all tastes and it was a lot raunchier than I anticipated. If you are from my generation and grew up on an action diet of Sly Stallone, Arnold, Van Damme and Seagal, you will definitely appreciate the humor in this flick. It does a terrific job spoofing that genre. There is a very funny Road House reference as well, but I wont spoil it for you. Well worth watching. Don't be turned away by the poor reviews. I have a feeling when this one goes to DVD it'll have a cult following. The best comedy since Step Brothers. A shame it performed poor at the box office, because it could have made a terrific franchise.
Movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches have a rough history with very few of them being anything but awful. The last good SNL film was almost 20 years ago with WAYNE'S WORLD and it's sequel in 1992/1993. I have been a fan of the show for a while but I understand how hard it can be to stretch an idea from 3 minutes to 90 or more. I'm glad Will Forte and director Jorma Taccone have come along to revive the hope for decent comedies based on SNL material. Based on Forte's sketch, MacGruber is an American war hero and MacGyver parody known for failing to disarm bombs in the nick of time. Here, he is brought out of retirement to bring down his arch-nemesis, Dieter Von Cunth. Von Cunth is the man who murdered MacGruber's bride on their wedding day and he's just stolen a nuclear warhead.
I hadn't seen much of the original sketches until a friend of mine heard about the MACGRUBER movie and sat me down to watch the sketches on YouTube. Frankly, I wasn't all that impressed with the sketches. Each one felt the exact same and it got less and less funny with each one I watched. I didn't hold out much hope for the film but I gave it a chance after seeing some positive reviews. I am so glad my initial expectations were wrong. This movie was funny and it got more hilarious each time I watched it. A lot of the humor in the film is downright juvenile ("Time to go pound some Cunth") but it works. MacGruber (Will Forte) is completely deadpan with his delivery and truly believes he is a genius hero while those around him, friend Vicki St. Elmo (Kristin Wiig) and Lieutenant Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillipe), are just as vexed as the audience as to MacGruber's insane methods.
The movie reeks of old school 80's action films and does a decent job of balancing the oddball humor with decent action sequences. Granted there's nothing too over-the-top about the action in the movie, limited to your basic gunfights. This movie is a comedy first and foremost. From the little bit I'd seen of Will Forte previously, I was never a fan but MacGruber seems to be the character he was born to play. His wannabe machismo, overconfidence in his eccentric methods, and dedication to his Blaupunkt car stereo are hilarious and his love scenes are some of the funniest I've ever seen. I love Kristin Wiig's quiet awkwardness that she brings to her characters and Ryan Phillipe did a goo job as the film's straight man, the voice of reason against MacGruber's idiocy. Val Kilmer must have had a great time playing baddie Von Cunth because he's hamming it up in every scene. Kilmer was probably my favorite part of the film and I'd love to see him do some more comedies.
I can only urge people to give the film a chance. I know the negative stigma associated with SNL movies but I'm hoping this film is more than a fluke and that we can expect some more decent films from their label. Another friend of mine fought against seeing the film but when I finally got him to sit down and watch it, his mind had changed and now we're constantly quoting it. Don't misconstrue my positive remarks as complete love for the film, as it still has it's flaws, but it's still a fun time and deserves credit for that.