Tuesday, May 25, 2010


This "Saturday Night Live" inspired spoof of the legendary Richard Dean Anderson ABC-TV adventure series "MacGyver" (1985-92) has its moments. Trouble is those moments are few. Freshman writer & director Jorma Taccone with “Saturday Night Live” scenarists Will Forte and John Solomon display a conspicuous lack of wit. The moronic humor in “MacGruber” (* out of ****) yields lowest common denominator chuckles seasoned with an R-rated surfeit of F-bombs. For example, the only reason the dastardly Dieter Von Cunth has such an anatomical name is so the good guys can use it as often as possible without appearing profane. The gratuitous abuse of the villain’s surname quickly wears this joke out in no time. Again, the humor is largely tasteless, infantile, and ad nauseam repetitive. Although he is a highly decorated Green Beret, Navy SEAL, and Army Ranger, our hero amounts to a completely clueless '80s-style action hero. MacGruber turns into MacGoober whenever the shenanigans hit the fan. He uses a buddy as a shield from three men armed with machine guns because he is so pusillanimous. Rarely do MacGruber’s spontaneous improvisational acts pay off. Remember, the real MacGyver shunned guns and converted ordinary household items into weapons. Nevertheless, MacGruber lacks the charisma of either Steve Martin's Inspector Clouseau or Steve Carrell's Maxwell Smart. MacGruber is so colossally arrogant you feel no sympathy for him when he is reduced to soliciting oral sex. MacGruber qualifies as a MacIdiot. Basically, “MacGruber” ridicules the conventional of formulaic, high-octane testosterone-laced male actioneers. Unfortunately, it lacks both the outlandish budget and insane hilarity of “Tropic Thunder.” Unless you’ve seen the “SNL” skits about the eponymous champion, you may find his adventures rather bland.

“MacGruber” opens in Siberia after the villain’s henchmen have knocked-off a Russian convoy transporting the X-5 nuclear warhead. Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer of “Tombstone”) smuggles the X-5 into the United States, but he still needs the pass codes to fire the missile. In Rio Bamba, Ecuador, Colonel Jim Faith (Powers Boothe of “Extreme Prejudice”) and Lieutenant Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe of “Chaos”) track down MacGruber to a remote monastery where the retired special ops legend exiled himself since his wife’s death. Like John Rambo’s mentor Colonel Samuel Trautman, Colonel Faith taught MacGruber (Will Forte with an 80’s mullet) everything he knows. Well, everything but executing a back flip. MacGruber has misled everybody into thinking that he has been deceased for a decade. He has withdrawn from the human race. He considers himself a man of peace. Colonel Faith explains that Dieter has stolen a dangerous nuclear warhead and has it aimed at Washington, D.C. Predictably, MacGruber refuses to recover the warhead so Faith appeals to his sense of vengeance. It seems Dieter blew MacGruber’s bride Casey Janine Fitzpatrick (“Saturday Night Live” cohort Maya Rudolph of “Idiocracy”) to smithereens at their wedding. Later, we learn that MacGruber seduced Casey from Dieter and told her to abort Dieter’s unborn child. Ostensibly, this is the reason that Dieter kills Casey. When a gung-ho Lieutenant Dixon Piper pleads to accompany him, MacGruber turns him down and tells him off. Our hero assembles his own team of brawny heroes. Clearly, these muscle-heads constitute MacGruber’s ‘dream team.’ MacGruber slaps together homemade C-4 explosives and stores them in the delivery van with his trigger-happy ‘dream team.’ As our protagonist bids farewell to both Colonel Faith and Lieutenant Piper, the C-4 explosives demolish the delivery van and obliterate MacGruber’s ‘dream team.’ MacGruber runs around hysterically begging anybody to call 911. When Colonel Faith relieves MacGruber of the mission, our rugged hero begs to be reinstated, he even offers to perform oral sex on Lieutenant Piper. Piper rebuffs the blow job from MacGruber but agrees to join his team. Faith stipulates that the team must have three members. MacGruber recruits former aide-de-camp Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig of “Whip It”), and Vicki winds putting her neck as well as other anatomical parts on the line.

Like the typical larger-than-life, high-octane actioneer, “MacGruber” flaunts its share of blood and gore. MacGruber takes a slug in the thigh, and Vicki probes around with a pair of pliers before she removes the bullet. Initially, she wanted to have nothing to do with MacGruber’s mission. Vicki harbors horrible memories of MacGruber’s wedding to Casey. When Dieter blew up Casey, Casey showered her best friend Vicki with blood. When MacGruber found her, Vicki had embarked upon a career as a musician. She realizes that she cannot resist being around MacGruber and joins MacGruber. Consequently, MacGruber demonstrates his lack of courage when he dresses Vicki to look like him so she can distract the opposition. One scene has MacGruber dispatching Vicki to a dinner where Dieter’s people hang out. MacGruber relays orders via an ear-piece to Vicki about how to impersonate him from his inconspicuous van parked some twenty blocks away. Pugnacious Dieter minion Hoss Bender (Andy Mackenzie of “Shoot’em Up”) discovers them and starts blasting bullet holes in their van. MacGruber starts screaming in fear. Meanwhile, back at the dinner, Vicki hears the screams, grovels on the floor, and scream, too, as the patrons watch her without comprehension. Only later does she realize what a fool she has been and tries to make an unobtrusive exit. Ironically, this is the only time that MacGruber doesn’t screw everything up. Wedging a mop against the accelerator, MacGruber kills Hoss by ramming the villain with the van.

MacGruber and his team track down the bad guys to a warehouse rendezvous where Dieter’s man, Constantine (Timothy V. Murphy of “Green Street Hooligans 2”), has gone to buy to the pass codes. Again, MacGruber dispatches poor Vicki who masquerades as the bearded Hoss Bender. Another minor league shoot’em up erupts, but Constantine manages to escape with the pass codes and MacGruber loses again! Colonel Faith decides to take MacGruber off the case and MacGruber begs to be reinstates, hoping that the promise that he will give Faith a blow job will change everything. Faith turns him down. Eventually, MacGruber realizes the Dieter plans to use the X-5 to nuke both the White House and Congress during the President’s State of the Union speech.

Taccone stages several minor action sequences without flair. Guys blast away at other guys, but the violence breaks no new ground compared to the recent “Rambo” sequel. “Indecent Proposal” lenser Brandon Trost makes these low-budget antics look better than it has any right. Aside from one scene with an older woman posing nude to Dieter to paint, nudity is confined largely to our hero’s hairy belly and bare buttocks. If “MacGruber” had been made in the 1980s, the only nudity would be beautiful female nudity. Once during the action, Forte parades around with a piece of celery protruding from his bare buttocks as a way to distract the opposition. Later, Lieutenant Piper follows MacGruber’s example. After he has sex with Vicki, MacGruber visits his late wife’s grave and has sex with her as a way to relieve his guilty conscience. A cemetery groundskeeper watches in disbelief as the totally naked MacGruber has sex with an apparition. Of course, the groundskeeper cannot see Casey, but MacGruber believes that she is there. Taccone saves the best scene for last. Our MacGoofy protagonist finally triumphs over evildoer Val Kilmer. Not only does MacGruber transform him into a sieve with his machine gun, but he also blasts Dieter with a grenade launcher. Were that not enough still, MacGruber urinates on Dieter’s corpse. Later, he tries to defecate on Dieter’s remains in a body bag. Too bad the previous 80 minutes were not as insane and hare-brained. It is some consolation that the soundtrack teems with classic Top-40 hits from the 1980.

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