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MacGruber (Script) – Review

You have probably heard by now about the Saturday Night Live sketch entitled MacGruber (a parody of MacGyver).

Wiki describes it best:

The skit sets MacGruber, Vicki, and another assistant (typically played by the current SNL host) in a life or death situation. The sketch always occurs in three parts. The setting is always the sort that stars of action shows find themselves in (an abandoned mine, a warehouse, and so forth), and they always find themselves trapped in the control room (no matter the setting, there is always a control room.) They need to disarm a bomb which is about to go off, and Vicki will call out that there are twenty seconds left, ten seconds, and so forth. MacGruber calls for his assistants to pass him ordinary objects, like rubber bands or bubble gum wrappers (a parody of how MacGyver would typically devise some way of getting out of a jam with typical household objects). Unfortunately, MacGruber is always dealing with some sort of personal issue, and always becomes distracted by this issue, ignoring Vicki’s notices about how much time is left, and the bomb always ends up going off.

So they’re adapting this one-gag 30-second sketch into a 90-minute movie, and it’s going to be the first SNL-based and Lorne Michaels-produced movie in almost a decade (not counting Harold).
Looks like Michaels thinks SNL is again more popular than ever (yeah, right).
MacGruber has also been used as a Pepsi vehicle during this year’s Super Bowl.

The cast will mainly include Will Forte, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph reprising their respective role (Grubes, Vicki and Casey).
It’s still being written by Forte, John Solomon & Jorma Taccone. The latter of which is directing the pic.
Regarding the new characters, Ryan Phillippe is playing the brash Lieutenant Dixon Piper, and Powers Boothe I’m assuming will be Colonel James Faith. As for Val Kilmer, he’ll be portraying the evil Dieter Von Cunth (you read that right).
And, yes, there’s a bunch of lame jokes around his name, mainly MacGruber repeating over and over again:

Time to go pound some Cunth.

Ha ha, that was a really clever pun to make…not.

Now, at this point you’re probably wondering how one can make a movie out of a sketch. The answer is simple: instead of parodying the same scene over and over again (being locked in a control room with a ticking time bomb), the movie parodies 80’s action films in general.
In that sense, it begins to be very different from the original MacGruber sketch.

The story is also really basic.
Grubes is pulled out of retirement to defend his country from Cunth, a man with a nuclear warhead. And this time, you guessed it, it’s personal. Cunth was actually the one that killed MacGruber’s former assistant (and bride to be), Casey.
Shit doesn’t blow every 20 seconds unfortunately. There’s probably like three or four “real” explosions occurring in the entire 90-minute movie.
The famous countdown sequence (by Vicki) is where you’d expect it to be. It’s however longer (three minutes instead of a few seconds) and is overall pointless (do you really expect MacGruber to die?).

In case you’re wondering what the rating will be like, it’s definitely a “Hard-R movie” as Bill Hader put it.
I was actually very surprised at how gory and crude the film was.
For the gore part, we have various head-shots, lots of blood and body parts everywhere. And the opening scene features young soldiers getting mercilessly killed one by one. Not really a funny opener.

As for the crude stuff, you can count on tiny penises and a hairy ass…with a carrot inside it.
Sorry for the image now stuck in your head.
In any case, the crude jokes seem to only be here to add a sense of ridiculousness to the whole movie, but what might have worked for, say, an Apatow production, isn’t necessarily something an SNL movie should base its jokes on. I’m not going to spoil anything but how the movie ends epitomizes this utterly pointless humor. I doubt even South Park would resort to such puerile jokes, and that’s saying something.
The drastic change of tone is even more evident once you look at the original MacGruber skits. They’re not as dark or as stupid (or at least not full of “below the belt” crude jokes).
And this leads me to the main character, obviously Grubes. Turns out, he’s a massive douche, and I don’t mean the good “it’s funny when he’s being an asshole” kind. I’m here talking about the bad “shut up you stupid, stupid man” kind. Saying he’s an egomaniac doesn’t cut it. For half the movie he’s basically insulting people. It’s so bad that you end up almost hating the guy and rooting against him. I was this close to virtually bitch-slapping him. Given that he’s supposed to be our hero, that’s a problem to say the least. Sure, he’s supposed to be this idiotic person that is ready to sacrifice himself for the good of his country, but he turns out to be the complete opposite of that. At one point, he even uses a “good guy” as a human shield! Way to prove your valiantness MacGruber.

But my biggest problem with this movie is probably the fact that it mainly relies on clichés for its jokes.
First, there’s an over-use of “stock footage.” This might be funny for a few explosions here and there (again, check out the old Grubes skits), but when all your expositions shots are only stock, the joke cancels itself out.
The same can be said about all the other clichés used throughout.
Stereotypical scenes and plotlines abound for an hour and a half. You’re obviously not surprised by anything, because you’ve seen it all before a thousand times. If the joke is supposed to be that I’m able to predict a mile away what’s going to happen, then I’m not laughing.
Five pages in, you already have your military general convincing a retired hero “to go back in the game”. Said hero (Grubes) has retired to, wait for it, a monastery in the middle of nowhere (or rather Rio Bamba, Ecuador). If that’s not enough for you, MacGruber is also surrounded by kids speaking in Spanish (though surprisingly not playing soccer/football). I almost forgot to mention those nightmares/memories he’s having about the villain killing his fiancée the day of their wedding (and the various “Noooooooo!” and “Aaaaaaaaah!” that ensue).
Again, a cliché in itself isn’t a joke, it’s just a cliché.

Despite all those numerous flaws, there are a few good scenes here and there. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to enumerate what they are but there’s at least one in a night club that made me smile. There are as well, sometimes, hints of good jokes in the dialogue amongst the ludicrous one-liners. Unfortunately, those moments lead back to the non-engaging storyline.

Overall, despite the lack of any decent plot, I’m confident the cast will pull it off. Forte for one (who shaved his head for the wig) will undoubtedly nail the dialogue and the character. The rest of the cast is also comprised of great actors (what the hell is Powers Boothe doing here?).
That said, I still can’t get past the fact that some of the jokes/scenes are just too absurd.
MacGruber wrapped shooting yesterday (on the 12th) and is scheduled to come out on April 16, 2010.


  1. Rosalind

    Thanks Alex – I think you have saved us wasting away 90 minutes of our lives…I now know never to watch this….ever :D

  2. leggyorlyb

    Well this is one movie i won’t be first in line to see, hell I won’t even be the last in line to see it.
    I have better things to do with my time.

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