Friday, May 21, 2010

Film review - MacGruber

Writer: Jorma Taccone, Will Forte, John Solomon
Director: Jorma Taccone
Producer: Lorne Michaels, John Goldwyn, Ryan Kavanaugh
Cast: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer, Maya Rudolph
Action comedy, 1 hour 39 minutes

The new film MacGruber continues the long tradition of making feature-length films based on Saturday Night Live sketches. It lives up to the standard established by the previous films.

Yes, it's that bad.

I won't deny chuckling a handful of times during the screening. But the long stretches between the laughs seemed interminable. It wasn't just me either. The auditorium at my screening was nearly full, and no one else seemed to be laughing all that much either.

The problem stems from the fact that they took a one-note character based on a parody of a one-note character (TV's MacGyver) from a tired sketch comedy program, and dragged it out into a feature-length production. It should have been something that could stand on its own, without knowing anything about the original sketches.

The jokes tend to be crude, which I don't mind, but scatalogical humour and male-on-male oral sex jokes aren't particularly cutting edge anymore. Team America: World Police was doing all that back in 2004. Now it's just tiresome.

The cast does try their best. Kristen Wiig is a standout without any apparent effort. The directing is actually quite stylish and would look decent on an actual action movie. The filmmakers also throw a number of cameo appearances by the likes of Jay-Z and WWE wrestling star Chris Jericho. But none of these things matter without a funny premise and funny script. The serious film style may have helped to undermine the intended humour.

I don't doubt that many fans of the TV character will like the film. But there are many that won't. In the words of the guy sitting behind me just as the credits began rolling, "that was just awful."

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