The latest in the series of SNL skits turned into full length features, “MacGruber” bravely steals defeat from the jaws of victory at most every point during it’s run time. One blurb says it’s the best SNL movie since “Wayne’s World”, (a statement I agree with) which is comparable to smelling pieces of shit and saying “this one doesn’t smell as bad as the other four or five”. MacGruber — hailed by some idiot as the best action comedy since “Beverly Hills Cop” (does this assclown live in a world where the “Lethal Weapon” films don’t exist?!) is sadly a stunning failure and a blueprint on how NOT to make an action comedy. I will say that the first 20 minutes or so of the film were extremely hilarious — so much so I thought we might have a new classic on our hands. But then the rest of the film started and it was horrible. A few laughs were interspersed throughout the film The action scenes are as inept and unappealing as it’s main character.
There are a lot of things the movie gets right, but that’s all in the first 20 some minutes of excellence that precedes the downward spiral of mediocrity that plagues the main storyline. Starting off with MacGruber (Will Forte) in a monastery and being approached by his former commander Col. James Faith (played by the always excellent Powers Boothe), MacGruber intially turns down the offer to take down the villainous arms dealer Dieter Von Kunth (Val Kilmer) who also killed MacGruber’s wife. The banter between Forte and Boothe is over-wrought and full of action movie cliches that effectively parody the action genre, which is what you would want from an action-comedy like this. Of course, MacGruber does accept the job a few minutes later. Accompanying Col. Faith is Lt. Dixon Piper played completely serious by Ryan (“Cruel Intentions”, “Way of the Gun”) Phillipe. MacGruber puts together a team of his ex-wife’s sister Vicki St. Elmo (Kristin Wig) and against MacGruber’s wishes, Dixon Piper.
This is the part where the movie starts to go down hill. I don’t mind flawed heroes whose plans backfire, but MacGruber is so constantly irritanginly a buffon that it takes away any realism that Powers Boothe would entrust him with holding his fucking car keys, let alone taking down a terrorist. MacGruber’s constant diresion of the extremely more capable Dixion led to several times when I wished Phillipe would have confused his roles for that of his character Parker in “Way of the Gun” and put two in the back of MacGruber’s head.
Watching an idiot’s incompetency is funny in straight up comedies where you can still root for the underdog. MacGruber is initially presented as such an effective agent that the reveal of how pathetic the character is comes across as a slap in the face to the audience who came to see the movie. Faith lists off a number of medals and recognitions MacGruber had received — by the end of the film the only one of them that comes across with any legitimacy is his receiving of 16 Purple Hearts. In fact what is really frustrating about this film is that the hero and villain roles are so horribly reversed. MacGruber’s wife was killed by Kunth as revenge. MacGruber explains that his wife was Kunth’s college girlfriend. MacGruber stole her from Kunth while she was pregnant and had the baby aborted. Also, Kunth is planning to shoot a missile at the president’s “State of the Union” address. So not only is he going out to get revenge on the turd MacGruber, but he is also going to kill Barack Obama, and he is portrayed as the villain!
Some will say that this is too much criticism to be pouring on a comedy but I disagree based on the fact that it could have been amazing. There is a fine line to keep in check between being an action-comedy and a flat out comedy. During the opening the film walks this line with the precision of a tight-rope walker, only to have the walker get drunk, stumble around and eventually fall off the tightrope. Luckily there is the safety-net of laughter that catches it and helps the walker from hitting the pavement. Even in something as idiotic as “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” there is a sense of competency to the character. His bizarre and erratic behavior serves a purpose that helps him to solve the mystery of Dan Marino’s disappearance. It makes the character’s outbursts tolerable to be around. MacGruber, however, only gets one point in the movie to show some semblance of knowing what the hell he’s doing, and it’s at the end of the movie. Too little, too late.
I’d recommend seeing this on cable or DVD at some point in the future but don’t waste money on it, unless watching an idiot fuck up for 90 minutes is your idea of fun.