There’s a funny scene in the most recent Saturday Night Live spin-off MacGruber: The newly dedicated hero has changed out of the jungle clothes he’s worn since swearing off crime-fighting 10 years prior when an arch nemesis, Dieter Von Kunth (a fat Val Kilmer), killed his wife on their wedding day. MacGruber is wearing a crappy vest over a dress shirt, his mullet purposefully left dangling behind his smirky face.
He jumps into a tacky red Mazda Miata with Rock music blaring on the Blaupunkt pull-out stereo. He pauses and then switches the station to SOFT 87.3, cuing lame ’80s Pop music. Ha.
Such is the sense of humor behind Will Forte's obvious parody of the TV show most people knew was lame in the first place. MacGyver, which ran from 1985 to 1992, was interesting to general audiences mostly for the novelty with which the protagonist solved problems. This dude didn't need an automatic weapon to serve America, just a high level of determination and creativity — the same things that made this country great. He's the antithesis of Rambo, a normal guy just doing his job in a jean jacket. Don't start no stuff, won't be no stuff.
OK, so it's a stupid premise (so was ALF, but we let that go). Can we please keep in mind that people in the ’80s were also dancing to the California Raisins and voting for Ronald Reagan? Piling on them is tired.
The main problem with this asinine parody is the amazing lack of creativity in the premise. Everyone already knows MacGyver was dumb TV show. Who wants to watch you, Forte, show us how dumb you think it was? You're really just showing everybody how dumb you are.
The premise is so obvious that even people born in the ’90s already get it. Every fall college freshmen across the land wrap broken computer speakers and cracked lamps in duct tape and then turn to their uninterested roommates: “Dude, I'm MacGyver.” Ha.
MacGyver was funny because it was stupid. MacGruber is stupid because somebody thinks it’s actually funny.
There are certain aspects of the film that make it more tolerable than the SNL skits from which it derived — mostly just a lot of cursing. A couple stupid/funny one-liners and the carelessness with which the film allows people to get killed add a couple degrees of humor. (Spoiler alert: The scene where MacGruber assembles his dream team of crime fighters only to accidentally blow up the van in which they're waiting to go on their journey is pretty funny and unexpected.) MacGruber's reaction: “I should have been in that van!”
But for every line like, “MacGruber, I thought you were dead.” “So did I. But I'm not,” there's a scene where the doofus is on his knees offering to suck someone’s dick for another chance at not fucking up, essentially summoning the1980s crack-head stereotype that Dave Chappelle parodied about a million times better.
It should also be noted that Kristen Wiig plays MacGruber's sidekick/love interest Vicki St. Elmo in a hardly funny or interesting performance. The plot would have hardly faltered had Wiig played the baby-hand freak Gilly that sucks the life out of most SNL episodes these days. How about this exchange: Gilly: “MacGruber you have to hurry, there's only 30 seconds left!” MacGruber: “Why don't you shut up and stick your baby hand inside this bomb and grab ahold of the green wire!” Ha.
MacGruber spends the second half of the film threatening to chop off Dieter Von Kunth's dick and stick it in his own mouth, only to be disappointed that by the time he gets his chance to enact his revenge Kunth's dick has been burned off. That's kind of what it's like to sit down and watch MacGruber: You hope to witness something creative knowing you're watching a MacGyver parody. Eventually you wish it were your dead body MacGruber was peeing and pooping on because it meant you'd be dead instead of watching his stupid movie. Grade: D-plus
Opens May 21. Check out theaters and show times, see more photos from the film and get theater details here.