On DVD: MacGruber

There’s a reason that movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches are looked at as the bottom of the barrel, and therefore a reason why “The Ladies Man” starring Tim Meadows back in 2000 was the last attempt. With the show regaining a bit of momentum, Universal gave it another go with “MacGruber.” For the most part, it’s another swing and a miss.

The film is based on the character portrayed by Will Forte — a dumb MacGyver, basically. Interesting, considering “MacGyver” is a TV show most of the film’s target demographic has only heard of in reference and not actually seen. (I always remembered it as the show Patty and Selma loved on “The Simpsons.”) MacGruber’s one rule is “no guns,” but that’s not the centerpiece of the film’s concept; MacGruber is simply a mullet-bearing government operative who’s dumb and unorthodox in every way.

“MacGruber” pins its laughs on lewd jokes and bizarre partial male nudity. At one point, MacGruber creates a “distraction” with some celery. So despite the opportunity for action hero satire, “MacGruber” writers Forte, John Solomon and Jorma Taccone (also the director) decide ridiculous and raunchy will be their biggest laughs. The cleverness is limited to character names (Val Kilmer plays Dieter Von Cunth) and Kristen Wiig writhing on the floor of a coffee shop at the sound of gunfire in her earpiece.

Wiig and co-star Ryan Phillippe (Lt. Dixon Piper) are mostly there to counter the obnoxious, repetitive and blunt behavior of Forte’s MacGruber. He finds moments of humor, but he simply operates on just a few different levels: dumb, trash-talking and overly emotional. I guess he found some success on SNL with the character, but there’s not much longevity to these shenanigans.

At least “MacGruber” doesn’t attempt, try or pretend to be something more than the mindless adult entertainment it offers. Hundreds of films have done it better and hundreds will do it worse. The only problem with mindless comedy is that no one remembers the middle guy.

2/5 Stars

Directed by Jorma Taccone
Written by Will Forte, John Solomon and Jorma Taccone
Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer


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