Monday, October 11, 2010

"MacGruber" (2010)

Starring Will Forte, Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillipe
Written by Will Forte, John Solomon and Jorma Taccone
Directed by Jorma Taccone

I have to admit that I did actually want to see "MacGruber."  I can't really explain why... I'd never really been a fan of the original 'Saturday Night Live' sketches, but there was something about the trailers that intrigued me.  But now, finally seeing it, I'm sorta glad I didn't pay all that money to go to the theatre.  "MacGruber" is okay, but nothing particularly special.  It's nice that they didn't hold back in terms of the language, this is definitely an R-rated film which is cool, but it's just not funny enough to call it anything more than a rental.

Will Forte stars as "MacGruber," supposedly an ex-Navy Seal, Army Ranger and Green Beret (and all-star college quarterback) who fakes his own death when villainous super-villain Dieter von Cunth (Val Kilmer) detonates a bomb at MacGruber's wedding.  Ten years later, Cunth has stolen the X-5 nuclear warhead, and Colonel Jim Faith (Powers Boothe) tracks down MacGruber at a monastery and pleads with him to return to duty, recover the warhead and save America.

MacGruber goes about recruiting a team of American badasses with names like Tanker, Tug, and Vernon Freedom, puts them all in a van with some of his homemade C4 explosive... which explodes and kills the entire team, leaving him only with the colonel's right hand man, Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillipe) and his dead wife's former best friend, Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig).  The three of them get hot on Cunth's trail (somehow) even as Cunth sends out a pack of vicious killers against them.  MacGruber, Piper and Vicki must find the X-5 before Cunth can use it to destroy Washington DC during the State of the Union address, killing millions and destroying America.

Part of the problem with "MacGruber" is MacGruber himself.  We're told that he's this well-trained badass, and he's constantly talking up his own skills... but for the entire movie until just at the end, he's a complete doofus, constantly screwing up in every way.  When he succeeds, it's often through blind luck.  When the final confrontation against Cunth comes, MacGruber is suddenly able to rip men's throats out with his bare hand and pull off a couple of fine martial arts moves.  I think the movie would've been a lot funnier if MacGruber had been that capable all the way through, but kept his nigh-cowardly, overblown dialogue style. 

The dialogue, from which most of the humor in the movie is derived, is chuckle-worthy, but rarely laugh-out-loud funny.  There are a few really hilarious bits in the film, especially MacGruber and Vicki's awkward sex scene and the aforementioned throat ripping.  There's also a recurring gag with celery that's pretty good, and the oft-repeated line "time to pound some Cunth" doesn't get old, either.

The action sequences are rather well directed, which is intriguing since Jorma Taccone is an SNL sketch director who's never made a movie before.  Though there's not much action to be had, the quality helps keep "MacGruber" from showing just how low-budget it really is.  If only the movie were funnier, "MacGruber" would be a pretty sweet package.  As it is, it's merely okay.  I didn't mind wasting my time with it, but I was hoping for more.