Director: Jorma Taccone
Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillipe
Most ‘Saturday Night Live’ movie adaptations are happy to tread water and celebrate mediocrity, staying true to the sketch and refusing to push boundaries. Only a few would stand out as recommendations for a wider audience, with the likes of ‘Coneheads’, ‘A Night At The Roxbury’ and ‘Wayne’s World’ feeling unique enough to be independent from the SNL universe. The latter was a near perfect comedy, by the way. However, this one is just as bland and perpetually stupid as the rest. It has one or two running jokes, the plot and character development falls flat and the ending is rather anti-climactic and predictable. I just desperately wanted to see those end credits so I could stop the film.
The titular character is Will Forte’s long-running spoof of MacGyver. It gleefully spoofs all things 80s and embellishes the clichés to a tee. The problem is, the movie is very linear and the jokes are just as flat. Every joke sees MacGruber acting like a real jerk and waiting for his friends to bail him out of the mess he has caused. Sure, some of the jokes help to develop the character, but none of them make him a good person. As the protagonist of the film, this is rather problematic and just makes it very hard to warm to his character. If anything, he is an anti-hero who receives a baffling level of support in his theatrical battles against the crudely named antagonist. Unlike Rob Corddry’s character in ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’, who manages to be realistic when the shit hits the fan, or even Lloyd Christmas and his ingenious plans in ‘Dumb And Dumber’, MacGruber appears to have no redeeming qualities. And worse still, he doesn’t seem to realise just how much of a douche he actually is. Indeed, if MacGruber was removed from the film entirely, everyone could solve the problems much easier. Actually, the problem wouldn’t even exist in the first place.
The additional characters are either short-lived, or do nothing other than save MacGruber from certain death more than once. They are underdeveloped and boring. Kristen Wiig only serves as a tired reminder of the forced romances we see in 80s action movies. Ryan Phillippe is the over qualified assistant who, for some reason reluctantly helps out each time, despite the fact that he’s more skilled and morally superior than MacGruber for any job or situation that arises. Val Kilmer is nothing more than the standard bad guy, who gets a big stack of cash to nuke the US government; a very dull character.
As a fan of SNL movies, this was disappointing, but does stay afloat on some scraps of merit. The scenes are well shot, the dramatic special effects are well placed, and some of the jokes do a great job in referencing the 80s. Anyone who’s obsessed with that era and is still yearning for yesteryear, this movie might be for you. For the rest of us, it is just too over the top, an exploitation spoof on all the overused clichés of that era. It didn’t make me laugh a whole lot and should only be sought out for cheap thrills and desperate measures.