Here is what I knew about MacGruber before going to see this film: MacGruber is a character from an SNL skit (I haven’t seen SNL in more than 15 years) and MacGruber is a spoof of MacGyver (I haven’t seen MacGyver in more than 15 years). I wasn’t familiar with the skit and I hadn’t even seen a preview, I’d only heard people say “it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.” Where I come from, that’s usually means I should see this film.
[Side note here: I wondered if my theater ran some sort of special night for whores on Thursdays, but it turns out it was just the opening night for Sex in the City. I still don’t understand why ladies would tramp themselves up for this premier – it’s a safe bet any guy in the theater in line for SITC isn’t going to be interested in a female in the first place, right? Just sayin…]
MacGruber’s wife has been killed at the altar by Dieter Von Kunth (and yes, they say his last name as many times as humanly possible in this film). Kunth is played by who I initially thought, “Wow, Brad Pitt has really let himself go.” Sadly, Kunth is actually played by Val Kilmer, who has also let himself go – but I’ll be honest, is still a good looking guy that makes me miss Willow. Kunth is now an arms dealer and has gotten his hands on a nuclear missile and plans to blow up Washington DC. The US military has asked MacGruber, the world’s top special ops killer, to take down Kunth and get his final revenge.
MacGruber resists at first, but eventually caves and assembles a team of top thugs and then proceeds to accidentally blow them all up. The brass try to pull him off the case but MacGruber sets up another team, including Ryan Phillippe and Kristen Wiig, to go after Kunth. MacGruber isn’t the awesome fighter/mastermind people assume him to be, but he’s got a pretty high opinion of himself, which is hilarious/pathetic at times.
Then… there are the love-making scenes. I’m convinced they were written by the writers of Family Guy, since they went on just long enough to make you uncomfortable and then annoyed, and then it comes around back to being funny again and finally stops. MacGruber has sex with Wiig and then out of guilt goes back to his dead wife’s grave and then has sex with his dead wife’s ghost. It’s ridiculous, but again, somehow ends up being enough to get a laugh.
The funny part for me is that MacGruber doesn’t use guns (but only because he doesn’t know how). He does the MacGyver thing and makes things out of bubblegum and tennis balls that never work, and he also has his patented move – the throat rip. He grabs bad guys’ throats and then rips out their windpipe. It’s hilariously gruesome and I love it.
The movie is filled with all kinds of slapstick prop humor (like shoving celery up their asses) and dressing Wiig up like MacGruber in one scene (where she flips out in a coffee shop and it actually IS funny) and then dresses her (poorly) as one of the criminals. At one point, he ends up using Phillippe as a human shield for a long period of time and somehow it is much funnier than you’d expect. But the film is also filled with occasional brilliant writing. The acting is supposed to make you uncomfortable and isn’t supposed to be good. Plus, Chris Jericho (whom I used to be mistaken for when he had hair) is in the film, so you know it’s quality casting, right? It helps that there are a handful of other wrestlers in the film – no wait, it doesn’t help.
So, despite it being a 90-minute SNL skit, it still ended up getting more laughs than I thought it would… including from me, sadly. At the beginning of the film, there were stupid bastards laughing at everything on the screen, like they were FORCING themselves to laugh at this low-brow humor. For some reason this always annoys me – maybe they’re warming up their laugh muscles for when it ACTUALLY is funny. I’ll laugh if it’s funny, but I won’t laugh just because I paid money to be entertained. About half an hour in and I found myself laughing as well. I guess I’m a stupid bastard now. Sigh…