From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Saturday, May 15, 2010

MacGruber - D

Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, violence, language and some nudity, 99 minutes

Comedic "SNL" spoof "MacGruber" a bomb

I went into the new comedic spoof "MacGruber" with (false) high hopes. I do enjoy the goofiness of the sketches on "Saturday Night Live" lampooning the old '80s TV show "MacGyver" (and especially the recent one with Betty White) but I ended up sorely disappointed. Maybe because the best parts are in the trailers for the film; maybe it was the fact its profane tone in no way resembles the silly sketches or the TV show it makes fun of, or maybe it just wasn't funny at all. As for movies based on "SNL" sketches it isn't the worst, but then that isn't saying much. "MacGruber" is still a stink bomb of a movie, its comedic failure heightened by its strong "SNL" roots.

In the 10 years since his fiancee was killed, special op MacGruber (Will Forte) has dedicated his life to fighting and stopping crime with his bare hands. He's put back into action by his old boss, Col. Jim Faith (Powers Boothe), who needs him to help stop his old nemesis Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) from destroying Washington D.C. with a powerful nuclear warhead that's he's developed. With the help of old pal Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and young military upstart Piper (Ryan Phillippe) he hopes to bring Von Cunthe to justice.

"MacGruber" is a needless, low-brow attempt to bring another "SNL" sketch to the big screen. Guess what? As you might expect, it's far funnier in the 3-minute sketches on the small screen. Admittedly, there a couple of things that are inspired: the casting of a droll, spacey Kilmer as the villain, and his character's name, which is pronounced exactly as you think it might be. The rest of it is an unfortunate mess, from the misguided direction of "SNL" writer Jorma Taccone to the botched script, co-written by Taccone, Forte and their writing partner, John Solomon.

The goofy sensibility and charm of the sketches are noticeably absent and instead lots and lots of idiotic bathroom humor, sexist behavior and profane language is added, which really hurts the film. It's trying too hard to distinguish itself from "SNL" but that will be a big mistake for fans of the sketches. And the movie, which lampoons the old "MacGyver" series, seems to be in a time warp, it doesn't know whether it's in the '80s (a Presidential portrait of Ronald Reagan) or current day (cell phones) to the puzzling fact that MacGruber actually uses a gun in the film.

Forte tries too hard and the slightly amusing Wiig is underused, while it's truly unfortunate to see a woefully miscast Phillippe here trying his hand at comedy (note to Phillippe: find better material). Throw in a bunch of WWE wrestlers, who look terribly puzzled and confused (along with the audience), some blood, one badly executed sex scene and some explosions and "MacGruber" is a pretty loathsome film. There are long, long unfunny lags in the film, which for a film that needs energy and strong pacing, is not a good thing.

"MacGruber" may end up a curiosity piece for those "SNL" fans who want to see what the film is all about and it might be a modest hit, bringing back it's $10 million budget. In the right hands it could've been funny for more than 3 minutes, but a few comedic bits and pieces, in this case, sketches, don't really add up to a great movie. Not worth it at all.