MacGruber Takes on the World

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Published April 1, 2010

Not since Wayne’s World has an SNL skit successfully transferred its late night alchemy to the big screen.  Aided by Kristen Wiig, Will Forte, Val Kilmer, and a very strong R-rating, MacGruber–the second trailer for which was released today (video above)–does the impossible by stretching a ninety-second skit to ninety minutes of funny. Though the film was still in post-production at its South By Southwest premiere last month (the wide release will happen in late May), it played to a crowd so raucous that audience reactions sometimes drowned out the dialogue. Attacking the role with enough gusto to risk an aneurysm, Forte ups the ante for his hapless SNL hero. The big screen MacGruber is clueless, bombastic, unable to deal with constructive criticism, and a little too excited about ripping throats.  With his trusty side-kick Vicki St. Cloud, played by the incomparable Kristin Wiig, MacGruber takes on evil mastermind Dieter Von Cunth (joke here), played by a menacing, ponytailed Val Kilmer. 

An homage to 80s action flicks, the film honors its roots by adding a few more buckets of gore than you might expect from a SNL film. (The hero/villain back story–which involves a lot of double-crossing, college common rooms, and a bomb in a bible–is more twisted than that of any other recent action movie). Written in the SNL off-weeks and directed in just twenty-eight days by SNL writer Jorma Taccone, the film is fearless in its approach to everything, from throat ripping to uncomfortable, softly-lit sex scenes. MacGruber is certainly a case in which not overthinking produces great comedy.