MacGruber Review

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When villainous Dieter Von Cunth (Kilmer) steals an atomic bomb, the US government decides to call in retired spy MacGruber (Forte). Will he and his crack team be able to take down Von Cunth in time? And what’s he doing with that celery?!


In an early episode of MacGyver, the ’80s TV show about a ludicrously resourceful secret agent, the hero makes a bomb out of bamboo, mud, a shirt and some swamp gas. The makers of spoof MacGruber have a lot more to work with — a vast budget, Val Kilmer and a gaggle of Saturday Night Live stars — yet fail to construct a film that’s more than fitfully funny.

Like its lead character, who rocks both a mullet and a puffy gilet, MacGruber feels oddly out of time. Its primary target is a TV show that, references in The Simpsons aside, has long departed the zeitgeist. It’s a spin-off from a series of SNL skits that won’t mean anything to most of the UK. And most of the movie pastiches feel exhausted. It kicks off with Powers Boothe’s colonel retrieving MacGruber from an Asian monastery — weren’t we here with Hot Shots! Part Deux 17 years ago?

As if trying to desperately clear the stale air, the movie piles on the crude gags. It’s amusing the first time Kilmer (resembling, with his bloat and ponytail, Steven Seagal, and with about the same flair for comedy) is introduced as MacGruber’s nemesis, Dieter Von Cunth; less so an hour in. Like SNL itself, this doesn’t know when to stop. There are relentless dick and shit jokes, long sequences where a desperate MacGruber offers to give men blow-jobs, and a terrible running gag about a licence plate.

What’s more, unlike his bumbling forebears in The Naked Gun and Hot Shots! series, the hero is a tosser. Okay, he’s supposed to be an idiot — and there are some winning eccentric touches, like the security-conscious way he removes his car radio each time he parks — but it’s hard to root for a man this creepy. Mike Myers has the ability to play narcissistic and lovable — Will Forte, on this evidence, does not.

There is some funny stuff along the way: Kristen Wiig gets to shine as splendidly named love interest Vicki St. Elmo, who likes to sing random lines of dialogue; there are two contenders for cinema’s least-sexy-ever sex scene; and surprisingly hard-R bouts of throat-ripping worthy of Dalton from Road House. But ultimately this SNL character proves unable to sustain a feature. Now, who will finance Jon Hamm’s John Ham: The Movie?

More Pistachio Disguisey than Austin Powers, this cheapjack comedy is nowhere near as ingenious as the man it sends up.