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Kristen Wiig and Will Forte: To imagine this movie, think lame, juvenile Saturday Night Live sketch (uncensored), then make it go on much longer.

Greg Peters/Rogue/Greg Peters/Rogue

1 out of 4 stars

Country
USA
Language
English

MacGruber

  • Directed by Jorma Taccone
  • Written by Jorma Taccone, Will Forte and John Solomon
  • Starring Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer
  • Classification: 18A

First, the good news: The more derivative pop culture gets, the more options you have. Consider your choices here. Option A: Watch the short Saturday Night Live skit that this movie inflates. Option B: Watch the original eighties TV show, MacGyver, which both the SNL skit and this inflated movie parody. Option C: Watch this inflated movie. Now peruse the consequences of each choice: A wastes but a few minutes of your precious time and may, or may not, yield a guffaw; B, seen from the smug vantage of campy nostalgia, will give you good reason to snicker at stuff that was meant to be serious; C, the most pricey and time-consuming option, will give you scant reason to laugh at stuff that is meant to be comic. Thus the bad news: Every choice in a derivative culture is tainted by the law of diminishing returns. And that ain't funny.

So MacGruber assembles its SNL team - Will Forte stars, Jorma Taccone directs, both have a hand in the script - to huff and puff and blow up their MacGyver spoof into something resembling a feature flick. Since doing so requires something resembling a plot, there's an arch-villain in possession of a rogue nuke and a volatile surname. By far the more lethal is that name, Dieter Von Cunth, because the verbal fallout is obvious and incessant. Shouts out the good guy: "Time to go pound some Cunth." Later, in case anyone survived the first blast, he shouts it out again.

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That guy, of course, is Forte's MacGruber, a world-saver who wears his mullet down his neck and his buffoonery on his sleeve. The latter, needless to say, forms the bulk of his arsenal, occasionally brandished like a blunt instrument but more often elevated into bombastic idiocy, the WMD of Hollywood humour. Apparently, his sole superpower is the ability to transform from macho motor-mouth to crybaby at warp speed. For instance, when cornered, the baby unzips his pants and mewlingly offers his nemesis the chance to do something unamusing that I can't repeat in these hallowed pages. Yes, that's how the SNL boys, freed from the niggling censors of network TV, have taken advantage of their big-screen adventure - by doing unamusing things that wouldn't be allowed on the small screen. On the bedrock of such artistic liberty, movies are made.

One more example. On those occasions when the baddies have him surrounded, MacGruber doesn't stoop to the unrealistic behaviour of most action heroes, shooting and punching and otherwise whacking his way through the entire assemblage. Rather, he creates an ingenious distraction by (1) stripping completely naked, and (2) sticking a stalk of celery up his butt, and (3) strutting about like a plucked ostrich with a green tail. Warning: Do not think that, come the next wave of baddies, such hilarity doesn't bear repeating.

My apologies, I've neglected to mention the other performers in this tour de force of movie magic. Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillippe and Kristen Wiig all appear - one wears a ponytail, another does not, yet another is called Vicki St. Elmo. I'll leave you to play mix-and-match, along with the further warning that it may soon be, "Time to go tickle some Elmo." Me, I'm off to check the critical returns elsewhere on the cultural ledger sheet - your faithful, if diminishing, accountant on his never-ending quest.

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About the Author
Film critic

Rick Groen is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More

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