How the hell can you take an SNL skit that runs 90 seconds and stretch it to a 90-minute feature? Sounds excruciating. But MacGruber breaks the jinx by putting the skit in the context of a 1980s action movie and creating its own brand of explosive lunacy.
Will Forte, who created the role of the flannel-wearing, mullet-haired soldier of fortune unjustly celebrated for defusing bombs with such products as dog shit, semen and anal lubricant, is back as MacGruber. On SNL, MacGruber dies in an explosion at the end of every segment, letting his racism, homophobia and staggering incompetence get the best of him at every turn. Onscreen, he gets to live. But first, MacGruber fakes his own death and heads to a South American monastery like Stallone in Rambo 3. MacGruber is bereft over the death of his bride (Maya Rudolph) at the hands of the dastardly Dieter Von Cunth, played to infinity and beyond by a pudgy, ponytailed, perfectly hilarious Val Kilmer. But when Von Cunth steals a nuclear warhead, MacGruber is called back into service by Col. James Faith (Powers Boothe, people, the ultimate in macho bluster).
MacGruber forms something less than an A-team with singer-songwriter Vicki St. Elmo (the priceless Kristen Wiig) and Lt. Dixon Piper (good sport Ryan Phillippe straining to keep a straight face). MacGruber’s goal is clear: “To get that warhead back, I’ll suck as many dicks as I have to.” The R rating allows him to rip throats, pound Von Cunth and engage in sopping, sweaty sex. Forte is having a ball, and the feeling is contagious.
No fair saying more, except to commend first-time director Jorma Taccone, who wrote the demented script with Forte and John Solomon, for spoofing the school of Stallone-Segal-Schwarzenegger with a sense of style and unabashed affection. Taccone, a force behind SNL digital shorts (Dick in a Box, Jizz in My Pants, I’m on a Boat) with his Lonely Island buddies Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer, knows you have to love something to stick it to it good. Maybe watching Forte run around with a stalk of celery up his ass isn’t your idea of fun. So be it. As our hero says, “One person’s problem is another person’s no problem at all.” I’d call it classic MacGruber.