Monday, May 24, 2010

MacGruber is one big bomb

1 star

By Thomas Tracy

The jokes in “MacGruber” are a lot like the explosives the title character can cobble together out of chewing tobacco, dental floss, bottle caps and chewed-up tennis balls: everyone hopes they’ll go off, but they always fizzle out miserably.

So does this latest attempt to bring a “Saturday Night Live” sketch to the big screen. While the MacGyver-homage/farce may elicit some chuckles at 12:30 am on a Sunday morning following a drinking binge that would put the Blues Brothers to shame, it certainly won’t resonate with prime time audiences the same way “Wayne’s World” did.

Heck, it might not even garner the same praise given to “It’s Pat” and “Stuart Saves His Family” — both of which did far worse than “Night At the Roxbury” and “Superstar.” And we remember those cinema classics, don’t we?

When we first catch up with him, MacGruber (Will Forte), the legendary super-soldier who was declared dead 10 years ago, is living a very Rambo-esque life in a South American monastery.

But duty calls, and MacGruber is quickly suited up in his flannel shirt, mullet, removable car radio and an unlimited amount of home-made weapons to battle the dastardly Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), an old foe who has a nuclear warhead pointed at Washington D.C.

At his side is longtime love interest Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig — the only other “Saturday Night Live” alum to take a chance on this bomb) and Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe relegated to the role of straight man). Together they take on about a half-dozen humdrum adventures, all the while thinking of hackneyed ways to make fun of the villain’s unfortunate last name.

The result is quite painful for those of us who don’t find dancing around with a celery stalk up your rectum entertainment.

Yet Kilmer somehow makes the most of his role and almost seems to relish playing a zany bad guy.

In turn, Forte plays MacGruber with all the boneheaded bravado he can muster, which, once again, works best in five-minute late-night sketches.

But even all that cornball confidence gets boring real quick in a 99-minute film, no matter how many silly contraptions he can make out of household garbage (which are very few) or how many throats he rips out (which were way too many).

"MacGruber." Starring Will Forte, Kristen Wiig and Val Kilmer. Directed by Jorma Taccone. Running time: 99 minutes. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, violence, language and some nudity.


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