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REVIEW: MacGruber

Running in MacGruber

How badly unfunny is this movie? ... I forget.

You know what, blog? It’s been a crappy few days for me and now all I want to do is sit back and trash some piece of crap. I wanted to do that with Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, but that movie was too good to give me a chance at knocking its teeth in. I’ll say right now that while I like the guys at The Lonely Island and own a copy of Incredibad, I not only couldn’t stand the first twenty minutes of this movie when I watched them a week back, but I also never intend to see Hot Rod or the movie Andy Samberg is inevitably going to direct. People will tell me that movies like Hot Rod and MacGruber are stoner movies, meant to be seen under the influence. If the only argument for your movie is that it’s better when your audience would laugh at Schindler’s List, then you’ve made a movie that is less funny than Schindler’s List.

Here’s a little in-process for anybody who’s a regular reader out there: if I’m watching a movie I recorded on the Movie Network, I normally write the first paragraph before I’ve seen the whole movie. A thousand words is a big space to fill and often, the first 30-40 minutes tell me all I need to know about a movie before I get to the intense stuff. You know, cinematography, actors, performances, all that stuff. An introduction is easy enough to write based on the first few minutes of the movie. Now, if I’m seeing a first run movie live, I obviously can’t do that. And if I’m watching on my laptop, that means it’s likely a movie I’ve seen a couple dozen times, ala Tarantino’s entire oeuvre or Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the Dead. I only bring all of this up because MacGruber is so stone boring and unfunny that it makes me want to reveal myself as a sham more than it makes me want to talk about it. What the crap was I thinking when I recorded this to review it? Oh right–“I owe them a bad review.” You get one.

MacGruber stinks. MacGruber itself started as a one-note per week parody of MacGyver on Saturday Night Live. The first week–which I got the pleasure of seeing live–Jeremy Piven refused to give MacGruber (Will Forte) various disgusting things including his pubes, resulting in inevitable explosions for punchlines. After that, the sketch focused on Mac himself and his various issues. One week, he didn’t have the confidence in himself to disarm the bomb in the bakery control room, another week… well, some other thing happened. People say that SNL movies (movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches) are rather weak these days. I mean, back in the day, we had Wayne’s WorldBlues Brothers and Spinal Tap. Nowadays, we have MacGruber and… well, I’ve forgotten any other modern SNL movies. Sorta proves a point there, doesn’t it? But what we easily forget is that there were far more SNL movies back then than the ones we remember. (Good use of then/than there, readers–take note!)

There were a crapton of SNL movies back in the eighties and nineties–we just forgot about them because they sucked. Like MacGruber sucks. They were one-note, pointless, unfunny drivel dedicated to hammering in one gimmick for over ninety minutes to trade on some vague notion of familiarity. This movie isn’t a parody of MacGyver, as far as I can tell. Sure, its hero is based on MacGyver to be sure, and the theme song does say that he makes “lifesaving inventions out of household materials”. But it doesn’t even open with an unrelated -Gruber gambit. No, instead it opens with villain Dieter von Cunth (a wasted Val Kilmer) doing… well, something, honestly I’ve forgoten. I think he kills a person for a nuclear warhead, and then we find Powers Boothe and Ryan Philippe (they seriously weren’t doing anything else–COME ON HOLLYWOOD) are tracking down MacGruber (who doesn’t have any other name) in some unspecified land (was it specified?) where he’s apparently a monk. Guess it was a monastery?

MacGruber puts together a team and blows them up with homemade … was it C4? I can’t recall. They were wrestlers anyway, and one was revealed to be gay, so that was supposed to be funny. I’ll get real here, I kept count of the actual laughs provided me during this movie. There were four. There were a total of four jokes that worked well enough for me to laugh. The first was the fact that, because they were in theaters and no longer on TV, they didn’t have to use “friggin'” in the choral arrangement of the theme. The second two were from things either Will Forte, Kristen Wiig or Maya Rudolph did during the sex scenes. Pretty funny. The fourth… well, it had something to do with Dieter von Cunth, but I can assure you it wasn’t his name or any of the “wordplay” thereupon. No, it was near the end of the movie, but I forget exactly what it was.

I remember an acting teacher telling me when I was a kid that he couldn’t wait for the day Will Ferrell was handed a dramatic role. He said this was because Ferrell never broke face in all of the sketches he did on SNL, including “More Cowbell”. Stranger Than Fiction counts as that movie for me, proving that Ferrell is a gifted dramatic actor in addition to comic. I’m just waiting for him to make another one of those. If I’m waiting for Will Ferrell to make another good movie, I’m still waiting on Will Forte to make his first good movie. He’s an astoundingly intense actor, physically adept, verbally unmatched on Saturday Night Live. He managed to make yelling at children and pissing himself funny, and that’s not easy.

I re-read constantly as I write. That’s another glimpse into my process. I’ve noticed that, unintentionally, there’s a theme throughout this review of forgetting facts about a movie I saw literally fewer than sixty minutes ago. I had another experience I remembered and was going to mention at the end of this review, beginning the same way as the last paragraph. … Well, it was probably something worthwhile. Unlike MacGrub–WAITWAITWAIT

I remember what it was, it was that Edgar Wright recommended this movie as the perfect stoner comedy of 2010 and said that he eagerly anticipated the next movie from The Lonely Island, Hot Rod being directed by Akiva Schaffer and this being directed by Jorma Taccone. I was probably going to make a point that tied into my theory that people with great talent have poor taste, mention Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne, but… well, honestly, uh–HALF A STAR

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  1. May 7, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Sometimes it’s okay to be lowbrow. Maybe I was just in the right mood, but this had me giggling consistently, with several outright guffaws. Included one of the funniest sex scenes I’ve ever seen. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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