Review: MacGruber ★★

MacGruber (USA, 90 min)
Dir: Jorma Taccome
Starring: Will Forte. Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Ryan Philippe

About five minutes into MacGruber, I realized something: I really don't miss being twelve years old. I still remember the summer when my cousins, brother, and I watched Weekend at Bernie’s and Scary Movie 2 about six times a week, and I can't help but think that I didn't put those days at the cottage to better use. Back in the day, I probably would have laughed myself senseless over the "jokes" in MacGruber, but now, I can only shake my head. Based on a character from "Saturday Night Live" sketches, MacGruber stars unfunnyman Will Forte as MacGruber, a mullet-sporting and brain-dead retired crime fighter.

When a nuclear warhead is reported missing, MacGruber is recruited by the American military to save the day. MacGruber is reluctant to return, but is persuaded to do so when he learns that the suspect is his arch-enemy Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), who bombed MacGruber's wedding and killed his bride Casey (Maya Rudolph). MacGruber excitedly reassembles his old crime-fighting squad and then quickly blows them up in a few quick scenes that provide so few laughs, you would probably have more fun if you sat in your living room with the TV off.

MacGruber next teams up with Army Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Philippe, Crash) and the one holdout from his earlier team, Vicky St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig, Whip It). With the new recruits, MacGruber gains some much-needed laughs, mostly due to the comedic efforts of Kristen Wiig. However, these few sparse laughs are of little value thirty minutes into the movie, since everything that has passed up to this point just isn't all that funny. The only decent joke is the villain’s name, Dieter Von Cunth, and although I suppressed an immature giggle every time MacGruber announced that it was time to "pound some Cunth", the joke soon wears thin.

Moreover, the "Cunth puns" highlight how much MacGruber relies upon extremely juvenile humor for cheap laughs. Most of the attempts at comedy in MacGruber are crude and puerile. Pretty much everything in the film is of poor taste. Some of the scenes are downright embarrassing for the actors: in one scene, MacGruber distracts a group of inept guards by dropping his pants and dancing around with a stalk of celery up his ass (at least Philippe has the good sense to use a butt double when his turn comes). However, MacGruber's worst offense is that it while it sinks so low, it rarely manages to squeak out a decent joke. A stronger writer might have used MacGruber's situation to satirize the American military or contemporary politics, but since MacGruber so frequently resorts to sexism, homophobia, and is otherwise so half-assed, it barely feels like a missed opportunity.

As far as past "Saturday Night Live" movies go, MacGruber falls short of the mindless-but-still-amusing Superstar. To its credit, it's not in the category of offensively bad SNL alum movies like Corky Romano. After surviving MacGruber, I pledge that I will never again sit through a "Saturday Night Live" movie unless it is written by Tina Fey.