Blues Brothers is one of the most beloved comedies of all time. Most would consider Wayne's World to be another classic. But those are the rare exceptions in the awful, awful track record held by feature film adaptations of Saturday Night Live skits. Movies like The Ladies Man, A Night at the Roxbury, and Superstar are best left forgotten in the cinematic sands of time. There's a good chance you actually had forgotten them until I just brought them up again, and for that I am truly sorry.
MacGruber is, if you couldn't guess from the name, a parody of MacGyver. It's a little strange to be parodying a property that the current generation quite possibly doesn't remember, but if you've seen any of the SNL skits, you'd know that it's actually pretty funny watching MacGruber use seemingly useless everyday items to craft equally useless contraptions. But the question that faces all SNL adaptations still remains: can a television skit that's never more than a few minutes long be stretched into a worthwhile feature film? Making the risk even greater, the property is a parody. The deck is not stacked in MacGruber's favor.
And yet, much like its incompetent main character, the movie somehow prevails, thanks in large part to star Will Forte's ability to make crude humor genuinely funny. There's a very fine line between smart and stupid comedy, and I don't pretend to know the difference. But even when the jokes in MacGruber become gross, they're still funny, and not just out of shock value. They poke fun at the absurd, and the absurd and the gross just seem to go hand-in-hand.
Val Kilmer isn't the top billed star that he once was, which is a shame, because he's a very talented actor. He was fantastic in the recent Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans and he makes a very entertaining bad guy as Dieter Von Cunth, which is a name you'll hear a lot during the course of the movie. Is it still innuendo if the word used is as straightforward as Cunth?
Rounding out the cast are Ryan Phillipe as straight man Lt. Dixon Piper and Kristen Wiig as MacGruber's love interest Vicki St. Elmo, who both do adequate jobs, but it's Powers Boothe as Colonel James Faith that's really a site to behold. Boothe has this uncanny ability to portray what seems to be the same character in everything that he's in, but there are these nuances in his performances that are undetectable by the normal range of human perception that result in each of his characters being received in a different way. I couldn't tell you what makes Colonel James Faith of MacGruber different from Cy Tolliver of Deadwood, but I can tell you that I want Faith in my corner but Tolliver as far away from me as possible.
MacGruber is touted as an action comedy, but does anybody really watched these movies for the action? Nothing here will satisfy the craving for real action, but that's ok. It just happens to be a comedy with an action backdrop. It isn't the best comedy. Some of the jokes fall very flat and the movie travels a lot of roads already covered in action parodies. It may not break new ground, but as long as you can handle raunch, you'll get a lot of laughs out of MacGruber.
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