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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Will Forte
Val Kilmer
Kristen Wiig
Ryan Phillippe.
Directors
Jorma Taccone.
Screenwriters
Jorma Taccone
John Solomon.
Running Time
98 minutes

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MacGruber
Is the latest SNL spin-off more Wayne’s World or Coneheads?


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Plot
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?!


Review
MacGruber
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?


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


Reviewed by Nick de Semlyen

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for MacGruber
Empire Star Rating

brilliant!

I laughed more during this than I have through many other comedies of recent years. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 21:45, 26 September 2011 | Report This Post


Tragic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 11:29, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post


Avoid This Film.

Ugh, this film is terrible. Unfunny, terrible plot, weak characters and just a waste of time. Nothing here I can highly recommened other than not see this, it's awful and insults your intellence. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 14:35, 22 October 2010 | Report This Post


Avoid This Film.

Ugh, this film is terrible. Unfunny, terrible plot, weak characters and just a waste of time. Nothing here I can highly recommened other than not see this, it's awful and insults your intellence. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 14:35, 22 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: This is an impressively weak review....

My god, I wasn't expecting much from a 90min film based on a 30sec (ok, x3 per episode) sketch. But this was just perfect dumb fun. The sex scenes are up there with "Uncle Fucker" for the longest and hardest I've laughed at the cinema. Which says more about me though I guess... ... More

Posted by Swoz_MK at 23:46, 22 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: This is an impressively weak review....

Man, this was a disappointment, was so psyched for months, Hot Rod is easily in my top 20, and Jorma, even in Land of the Lost, is always good at what he does, and whilst this film has some hysterical moments, like the license plate runner, the plot isn't given enough, and so by the final act, we're already kinda defeated. A shame, because Kilmer lent so much to the project that could have made the action plot even stronger, allowing all the jokes to be better. Still, when he rips throats, it... More

Posted by Ethanial at 15:41, 18 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: This is an impressively weak review....

But the real question is, why did Empire only ever give Hot Rod 3 Stars? It's a masterpiece. ... More

Posted by swordsandsandals at 17:31, 15 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: This is an impressively weak review....

Hi Alex, Thanks for your response. I'm well aware of the original skits. I'm a lifelong fan of Saturday Night Live, with almost all the released DVDs on my shelf, and while I admit I wasn't the biggest fan of the MacGruber skits going in, I was still hoping to see a funny movie. Many of my favourite comedies are what you'd call 'silly' or 'extreme'. I love Kristen Wiig and a lot of the Lonely Island stuff. So I'd say I was as well suited to do this review as anyone in the office. ... More

Posted by Nick de Semlyen at 14:14, 15 June 2010 | Report This Post


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