Of all the SNL skits making the rounds weekly, MacGruber would have been at the last of my list of guesses as to which one could, or should be turned into a major motion picture. The skits themselves are awkward and rarely funny, with the exception of Kristen Wigg, who does the best with what she’s given. It’s fortunate indeed that last week’s SNL (which was basically a long commercial for the film) had Betty White keeping the skit afloat. With all this, I’m pleased to say that I was pleasantly surprised at this over-the-top comedy. They did a fine job adapting this to a full-length narrative. And I really wanted to hate this movie.
There’s definitely some bad writing. And some jokes that make you laugh but immediately make you ashamed you’re doing it. Example, Val Kilmer plays the villian (quiet well I might add) named Dieter Von Cunth which inevitably leads to “I’m gonna go pound some Cunth,” and several other varieties. Regardless, it’s funny. The über-cheesy one-liners really are so bad they’re funny, and besides them, there are some truly, genuinely funny moments. Will Forte stars as the title character. A man with a mullet, who boasts of the 20-pound python in his pants, and brags about his ability to rip out a man’s throat with his bare hands. He’s accompanied by a military team in charge of finding, and neutralizing a nuclear warhead set to detonate during the State of the Union. Kristen Wiig plays his love interest and teammate as Vicki St. Elmo. And then of course there’s the one guy not stuck in the eighties, Lt. Dixon Piper, played by Ryan Philippe. Strange enough, Wiig didn’t steal the show. She’s funny here of course, but her part was toned down to allow most of the attention on MacGruber. This leaves Philippe to play the straight man to all these shannigans, which are, of course, considerable.
Jorma Taccone, a writer and director for Saturday Night Live (sometimes appearing in digital shorts like Jizz in My Pants), directed and co-wrote MacGruber (he shares the writing credit with Forte and John Solomon), and show considerable promise. He may have a very bright future churning out crass summer comedies. This film is not The Hangover funny, but I promise you’ll laugh out loud more than you have in a while, and you’ll actually be excited about what SNL will give us next.