Monday, May 24, 2010

Movie Review: MacGruber

I was busy writing a Summer Movie preview and getting ready for/watching "Lost" to be productive enough to also review a movie this weekend. Thank God for Justin Senkbile, who turned in this!

G.I. Joke
Macgruber versus the legacy of SNL films
by Justin Senkbile

How can you possibly stretch Macgruber, the briefest of "Saturday Night Live" sketches, into a feature-length film? Well, you can't. Director Jorma Taccone (one third of The Lonely Island), along with co-writers Will Forte and John Solomon, apparently realized that, as opposed to Wayne's World, for example, where the characters were already fleshed-out beforehand, they'd have to invent Macgruber before they could film him.

The hapless dork we know from the show, who always sidetracks himself with trifling conversation and runs out of time before he can de-fuse the bomb, has been developed into something quite unexpected. Here, he's more of a misguided egomaniac than a simple fool.

He’s been playing dead for nearly ten years, but explosives expert Macgruber (Forte) is suddenly brought back into action when a massive nuclear warhead goes missing. The thief, Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), who also happens to be Macgruber's arch-nemesis, has plans to hurl the bomb towards Washington D.C. during the State of the Union address.

Macgruber, of course, isn't about to let that happen. With his team members Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and Lt. Piper (Ryan Phillipe), he sets out to stop Cunth and save America.

It's not nearly as funny as one would hope but, if nothing else, Macgruber is a pretty perceptive parody of 80's action movies and Reagan-era patriotic paranoia. Many of the interior scenes are flooded with that gaudy, soft white light that used to indicate romance, the stakes are the infinity of American pride, and the villains are all eastern European.

To make all these ingredients work together, Macgruber needed to be a little less twisted Dr. Phil and a little more bloodthirsty G.I. Joe. Unfortunately, the laugh-ratio seems to suffer because of this.

This shouldn't give the impression, though, that the Macgruber here really has a handle on much of what's going on, or that this movie isn't as loony as any other big screen "SNL" offerings. Macgruber's obsession with a certain license plate number is a wonderfully stupid touch, as are two of the weirdest sex scenes in recent memory (which come back to back, mind you).

The important thing here is that Macgruber, in spite of its shortcomings, doesn't come close to being one of the worst "SNL" films. When it's funny, it's very funny, it just unfortunately doesn't do justice to Forte's talent, or to the brilliant sketches from where it came.
Grade: B

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