Directed by: Jorma Taccone
Produced by: Lorne Michaels
Written by: Jorma Taccone
Starring: Will Forte
Music by: Matthew Compton
Cinematography by: Brandon Trost
Editing by: Jamie Gross
Studio: Relativity Media
Distributed by: Rogue
Universal Pictures (DVD/Blu-Ray only)
Release date(s): May 21, 2010
Running time: 99 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $10 million
Gross revenue: $9, 259, 314
The broken record that I am is jumping back and forth in a perpetual, never-ending apology, although with good reason. I am getting rather cross at my continual apologizing and am quite sick of the fact that I am only at my current rate averaging one review every two weeks. This one has been waiting on the backburner for literally that long, so I figure it is about time I get down to it. On better notes, I will also have reviews for coming for Despicable Me, Cemetery Junction and The Crazies. Also, this is my first review on my new MacBook laptop, which is simply brilliant, and a pleasure to type on. I won't normally talk up products or big consumer machines, but one has give to them credit for the iPod.
Anyway, let's talk MacGruber. This film is based on a Saturday Night Live sketch, which itself was a parody of MacGyver. SNL has a tradition of occasionally adapting some their more successful sketches into feature films, the most notable examples probably being The Blues Brothers and Wayne's World, other examples being of varying quality in terms of critical and box-office reception. Will Forte reprises his role as MacGruber, who is brings himself out of self-imposed retirement in an Ecuadorian monastery in order to track down the brilliantly named Dieter von Cunth, played by Val Kilmer, who is shown at the beginning of the films stealing a nuclear warhead. MacGruber assembles a team, including Lt. Dixon Piper, played by Ryan Phillippe and Vicki St. Elmo, played by Kristen Wiig. So, the table is set for a hilarious comedy that parodies and lampoons 1980's action films.
What could possibly go wrong, after all, it's a tried and tested formula that's worked before, eh? To give the film some credit, although any more than listing the following gags would be to overstep my boundaries, there are some funny bits to give MacGruber its due. The scene in which Vicki dresses up as MacGruber in the coffee shop is funny and the "incident" (for those who really want to see it, I won't spoil it) that befalls the team that MacGruber assembles stand out. Also, WWE star The Big Show's appearances in the film conjure a number of titters in a real against type role. However, the best gag of the film is undoubtedly the name Dieter von Cunth. For anyone who cares to look up the translation, whilst it's more blunt, it is by no means any funnier. Also, while obviously a jokey name, it sounds enough like a real villains name to make it both funny and knowing. The various plays-on-words, "lets pound some Cunth" that revolve around this name are just tremendous and represent the peak of the film's ability to conjure a laugh from me.
Bar some giggles (uproar at Dieter von Cunth), MacGruber does not have much to offer in the way of not just laughs, but anything. The acting in the film "comedic" performing at its unfunniest. Playing a controversial sadist in MacGruber, Forte completely hams everything up to ridiculous proportions. Remember when Nigel Tufnel mentioned how he likes his speakers at 11 and not 10? The thing is that Forte and everything else involved go too far past 11 and in the end give us what has to be the most absurd film I have seen since Marmaduke. Forte isn't even a funny sociopath, just an annoying prick. While this may not be the case, after all, no one shoe size fits all, the film gave me nothing to find endearing or vaguely amusing about the character of MacGruber.
I feel that I have pertinent points to make here regarding this, as I am currently reading Irvine Welsh's Filth, whose protagonist D.S. Bruce Robertson is one of the most morally corrupt characters in the history of the written word. However, despite the fact that he is actually more of a prick than MacGruber, there is something about this man, through the skills of Welsh as a writer, that makes the reader sympathize with him: I feel nothing for MacGruber bar unadulterated hate. This unamusing sociopath should not return to the monastery, but retreat to a bear's cave. Then again, I wouldn't want to subject a bear to this boring prick. Jorma Taccone, John Solomon and Will Forte himself must bear a great amount of responsibility for this monstrosity of a film being birthed from whatever mother's anus it came from. The film is murder-by-numbers in the worst way possible, both abiding by the clichés of the 1980s action film genre and the clichés of the action film parody genre, so we have a double failure here. Structurally, it is incredibly simple and stripped down. If the script were a biological organism, it would be a naked man running around without either his clothes or his skin. The dialogue, which we are expected to eat up, is god awfully unfunny bar the obvious Dieter von Cunth.
While not shot or directed very well, I do have to give the film-makers credit for keeping the film relatively low-budget at $10 million. It would be a shame to spend any more money than is necessary to prove the point that someone can make a terrible film. Also, signs are good that the film did not recoup its budget, so according to the way the cookie crumbles in the horrible capitalist hub that is Hollywood, there will definitely not be any sequels: you live by the sword, you die by the sword, so ha ha ha ha ha! Want to make a boorish and excessive bordering on stupidity film, you go ahead and do so, but this is living proof that people are not going to accept bad films forever. Jean Beaudrillard is becoming increasingly prophetic in the years following his death, as is Philip K. Dick regarding the media and the world that we live in. If the film had lived up to the hilarity and standard found in the name Dieter von Cunth, the film would have been great, except that it isn't.
MacGruber was a shit sandwich movie that masqueraded as nothing less than a shit sandwich, and got no better a reception than a shit sandwich. The Naked Gun done this twenty years ago, when the 1980s action movies were still being churned out, and is the only film (along with its successors and Team America: World Police) worth watching if you want to study a worthy parody of this genre of film. Rent them out, or even better buy them, I got the Naked Gun Trilogy for under £10 in great little three-disc set. Do not, under any circumstances, rent or buy MacGruber, lest it gets a cult audience on DVD. If you want a recent example of sociopaths on film, although I didn't like it much, rent Observe And Report. Or better still buy The King Of Comedy. I don't dislike excessive films, but this surely has to take the biscuit. Having a sociopath as a lead character is not niche unless you are able to get it past the hurdle of making a good film, and a good film this isn't: three words, 1. A 2. SHIT 3. SANDWICH!
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 2.4/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Cathartic
P.S.: Dieter von Cunth... try not to laugh.
P.P.S. For some reason my copy and paste from MS Word to this isn't working very well so right now I'm spitting bullets at my MacBook.
P.P.P.S "The best action-comedy since Beverley Hills Cop": dog's bollocks!