Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: May 21, 2010 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.

In this colorful, wafer-thin action comedy the titular ex-special operative is called back to duty to eliminate his archenemy who happens to be in possession of a nuclear warhead and driven to wipe out Washington, D.C.

MacGruber features Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, and Val Kilmer, as it works diligently in mocking the adventure series "MacGyver" starring Richard Dean Anderson which became a popular series of sketches on "Saturday Night Live".

Forte's mullet-coiffed, inept hero is brought out of his self-imposed South American exile to exact revenge on the man who offed his bride on their wedding day.

SNL scribe Jorma Taccone (a co-writer with Forte and John Solomon) directs with a kind of crude capriciousness as MacGruber is dedicated to "putting the band back together." Of course, things don't go as planned as film aims to delight in a mirthful makeshift way having fun with Hollywood and its big-budgeted mannerisms to appeal to the masses.

The laughs come in repetition through the sounding off of Dieter Von Cunth (a burly Kilmer) or the fixation to a Mazda Miata sound system. The closeness to the Richard Dean Anderson (he had a way with household items) show may come when MacGruber arms himself with dental floss and pushpins.

In this ephemeral construction which may recall more risible silver-screen creations like The Naked Gun or the original Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery, Phillippe is the fleeceable, low-key soldier who once though highly of the less-than-intrepid MacGruber. Wiig (Whip It, Ghost Town) seems to make the most of her bewildered colleague who really aspires to writer for balladeers. Recognizable vets with a variety of experience are along for the ride like Powers Boothe and SNL alumni Maya Rudolph (see Away We Go).

Obviously, the translation of what works on the small-screen (and SNL) is less fun and more of a miss than hit here, even if an atypical lead like Forte embodies a dullard with occasional sharp physical dexterity. When he doesn't register with young or older males, then the tongue-and-cheek wit and innuendo of this lazy scatalogically-filled parody manages to bring a goofy sense of nostalgia to the 1980s like the raunchy, if more diverting Hot Tub Time Machine.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
MacGruber  F      C      D            D 

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