Thursday, May 20, 2010

"MacGruber" silly and crude but surprisingly funny

MacGruber (2010) 
88 min., rated R.
Grade: B -

Movies inflated from Saturday Night Live skits usually don't get much mileage from one joke. In fact, you can count the number of successes on three fingers ("Wayne's World," "The Blues Brothers," "Coneheads"). "MacGruber" had no right to be funny as a feature-length movie, let alone semi-good, but it actually brings on the funny. The joke of Will Forte's MacGuyver-esque American-hero, MacGruber, a Green Beret, Navy SEAL and U.S. Army Ranger who is none-too-bright with explosives, is that he gets less than 2 minutes to diffuse a bomb, gets distracted, and blows everyone up. 

This gleefully ridiculous, silly, crude—and very funny—comedy isn't a bomb but has the smarts to parody overblown '80s-style actioners, from "First Blood" to "Lethal Weapon" to "Die Hard," and dump MacGruber into the mix. Jorma Taccone, one of the SNL actor/writer/director guys that does the hilarious Andy Samberg videos, is at the controls of this movie and shapens real comic timing that's needed, with his editor knowing just where to cut, and jacks up the 60-second sketch caricature with entertainingly bloody violence, throat-slashings, and one great subtitle joke translating “You're loco, man!” The movie gets bailed out by the cast and many cheap “shock” laughs. 

Will Forte's quick, deadpan delivery and too-cool-for-school attitude for stupid-as-hell dialogue as the mullet-haired MacGruber. Thank god for Kristen Wiig as love interest Vicki St. Elmo; they share a priceless wam-bam-thank-you-mam sex scene that's even unsexier than the one in "Team America: World Police." A rather portly Val Kilmer has a ball as the nuclear-bomb-stealing madman, Dieter von Cunth (the “H” is silent), the arch-nemsis who killed MacGruber's wife 10 years earlier. That name is one of the reasons why the movie got an R-rating (take that NBC censors!), but the Cunth joke wears out after about the third time. Ryan Phillippe gets the “straight man” role as soldier Dixon Piper, but this is the only movie you'll see where he distracts bad guys with a celery stick protruding from his derriere (which we won't get into here). SNL vet Maya Rudolph is a hoot, unsurprisingly, as MacGruber's late wife, showing up in flashbacks and spiritual visitations. "MacGruber's" thinness becomes all too apparent, as all SNL movies do, but it's a pretty funny waste of time. 

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