Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

A One-Man Army Without a Clue: MacGruber

Posted by CinemaPsycho on May 23, 2010

Just wanted to start out my new blog by saying this: RIP Lost and 24, the two best shows on network television. They were complex, incredibly addictive and often brilliant entertainment, and they will be missed. I know this isn’t movie-related, but they were awesome shows that rivaled the big screen’s best work of the past decade. So much respect to all of the writers, producers and actors involved for the hours of terrific television.

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Well, it’s a real shame that MacGruber didn’t make much of a splash at the boxoffice this weekend. I’ve often thought of Will Forte as current SNL’s most underrated cast member (I have a perverse love for The Falconer), and while I was skeptical going in, I found the movie to be a hysterical piece of inspired lunacy. Obviously most moviegoers weren’t very interested in yet another movie based on a long-running SNL sketch, and scheduling it in early summer was a practically suicidal move. Maybe people actually thought it was just going to be the sketch (in which a MacGyver clone with issues fails to disarm a bomb and gets blown up every single time) over and over again.

Whatever the reasons may be, if you’re a fan of edgy, rude R-rated comedy, missing MacGruber is a huge mistake. Forte and co-writers John Solomon and Jorma Taccone (who also directed) really pulled out all the stops and turned this into a refreshingly quirky and perverse action-film parody. The humor is very genre-specific, so if you didn’t grow up watching 80’s action flicks like I did, you may find much of it puzzling. And if you have an aversion to male nudity on screen (even for comedic effect), you should probably stay far away from this. If neither of those things bother you, however, you’re likely to laugh hard (with a vengeance) at MacGruber.

While nothing in this movie is meant to be particularly deep, I don’t think it’s reading too much into it to see MacGruber as a wicked lampoon of the macho bullshit that typified those action films (that I admittedly love without shame). MacGruber (the character) is just delusional enough to think of himself as a tough guy, but in truth he’s actually rather cowardly, not to mention vain, spiteful, paranoid and irresponsible, as well as being completely incompetent as an action hero. He’s basically an idiot who thinks he’s John Rambo. One of the best running gags involves him getting “psyched up” to the mellow soft-rock sounds of Toto and Robbie Dupree. It’s funny because it’s the exact opposite of his badass, take-no-prisoners image (which is completely self-generated, of course). In truth, he’s the kind of guy who can’t even protect his car stereo from being stolen (which is why he has to carry it with him everywhere he goes), much less save the world. That dichotomy is the main joke of the film, and it’s a surprisingly potent one.

If MacGruber accomplishes nothing else, hopefully it will serve as a comeback for Val Kilmer, who is quite hilarious as terrorist Dieter von Cunth. I’ve always liked Kilmer as an actor, and seeing him stuck in straight-to-DVD B-movie hell for the last several years has been particularly painful. Here he finally gets back to showing off the comedic chops that helped establish him in movies like Top Secret! and Real Genius. It’s a pretty wonderful thing to watch the guy chewing scenery and apparently having a blast doing it, and his villain von Cunth matches MacGruber quirk for quirk. It’s worth the price of admission just to see Val Kilmer being awesome again, and I sincerely hope he keeps it up in future films. MacGruber may have unleashed a bomb at the boxoffice (ah, see what I did there), but it’s by far the funniest movie I’ve seen this year.

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4 Responses to “A One-Man Army Without a Clue: MacGruber”

  1. Paul said

    This is a test comment.

  2. Comments are working! Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…

  3. paul said

    I’m viewing this on my cell phone and it looks awesome! I can even leave comments and everything.

  4. CinemaPsycho said

    It’s already working better than the old site ever did!

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