Sing it loud and sing it proud: “MacGruber! His co-workers are buzzing about his total incompetence. MacGruber! He’s trying to ignore it but it really hurts his feelings.”
That’s just one line in this “Saturday Night Live” action hero’s ever-changing theme song, and it provides as good a test as any as to whether you’ll dig an 84-minute theatrical expansion of a recurring sketch. Does that sort of ironic, archetype-subverting humor make you giggle? What if you mix it all up with comedians like Will Forte and Kristen Wiig, with funny wigs and purposely low-budget surroundings, with a ton of foul language, bloody deaths and lowbrow yuks?
Clearly, not everyone agrees on what constitutes bringing the funny, and [movie id="431913"]“MacGruber”[/movie] seems to be among the more polarizing comedies in recent memory. It’s one of those movies that you either embrace in all its campy glory or watch wondering if you can ask the guy at the ticket counter for your money back. That about summarizes the critical reception to the movie, which hit theaters on Friday (May 21). The reviews are in (including one from Kurt Loder , who says the movie “demonstrates once again the inadvisability of attempting to stretch a one-minute TV sketch into a 90-minute movie”), so let’s take a deep dive into what everyone has to say.
“Believe me, I was as skeptical as you were when Lorne Michaels decided that the first movie in a decade to be based on a ‘Saturday Night Live’
character would be ‘MacGruber,’ about a guy who’s a one-note parody of MacGyver and whose main appeal is in blowing up at the end of every 90-second sketch,” begins Katey Rich of target="_blank">CinemaBlend.com. “There’s pretty much nothing in the ‘MacGruber’ movie that resembles the character we saw on TV, but that’s pretty much all for the better. Opting for an utterly over-the-top action movie parody rather than a faithful interpretation of the ‘SNL’ sketch, ‘MacGruber’ is childish and ridiculous and far funnier than you’re expecting.”
For some, however, being funnier than you were expecting just isn’t enough. “[T]his still feels instantly dated, a ‘Hot Rod’ in a ‘Role Models’ era,” writes Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel. “Nostalgia works because our memories play tricks on us. MacGyver was an adolescent’s TV action adventure that hasn’t aged well, and even the best ‘SNL’
sketches became bloated movies that barely hid their shortcomings. Funny as it sometimes is, ‘MacGruber’ is still a comedy for people juvenile enough to laugh at every f-bomb as though it’s the first time they’ve ever heard a word that naughty.”
Critical opinions on Forte’s performance are just as split as views of the film itself. Ed Douglas of target="_blank">ComingSoon.net finds he has nothing but love for the guy. “It’s really quite amazing how much comedy they can get out of a fairly minimal cast of just five key players, but much of that comes from Forte’s daring to take this character as far as he possibly can for laughs while constantly playing this seriously,” he writes. “In that sense, Forte is every bit as funny as Leslie Nielsen at his height with a bit of Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau mixed in, but taking it even further by showing his bare ass more times than any audience could possibly want to see. While there isn’t a ton of emotional depth in any of it, the character never wears out his welcome because Forte finds ways of keeping him entertaining.”
Representing the Down with Forte camp is the New York Post‘s Kyle Smith. ” ‘MacGruber’ never comes close to making even a mildly satiric point — at the expense of, for instance, the patriotic mid-’80s American he-man flick — because it’s so focused on silly clothes and butt jokes,” he writes. “Forte prances naked except for a celery stalk sticking out of his hindquarters, a gag so pathetic that you neither laugh with him nor laugh at him. You just want to give his mom a hug.”
We’ll give the final word to HitFix.com’s Drew McWeeny. “[T]he great conceit of [director] Jorma Taccone’s film version of ‘MacGruber’ is that it plays like a crappy Rambo sequel,” he says. “It’s uncanny timing, since this year’s biggest trend seems to be the fetishistic resurrection of ’80s action, with ‘The Losers’ and ‘The A-Team’ and ‘The Expendables’ all coming soon. And here, before any of them, Taccone pretty much nails what they’re all chasing, sending it up even as he embraces it fully. The result is a film that’s easy to watch and consistently funny, even if it is as substantial as a meringue.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “MacGruber.”
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