Faced with the challenge of expanding a recurring, fitfully funny 60-second SNL sketch starring Will Forte as a clueless ’80s-style action hero into a feature-length movie, the SNL brain trust behind MacGruber digs deep: Writers Forte, John Solomon, and Jorma Taccone (who also directed) jack up the cartoon-violent story with an onslaught of crude sexual jokes and activities pertaining to male genitalia and its capabilities, and flush the dialogue with a torrent of dirty language. You can’t touch that, stupid network TV censors!
The result is a naughty throwaway in all senses of the word throwaway-90 minutes of talented performers doing and saying dumb, crude stuff in pursuit of an elusive laugh, in a disposable action-comedy primarily geared to young men and the 11-year-old boys who will want to sneak into the R-rated screening. Lured out of retirement by his former commanding officer (Powers Boothe from Sin City) to bring down an evil arms dealer (Val Kilmer), Forte’s MacGruber, a decorated Green Beret, Navy SEAL, and Army Ranger, recruits two other associates (Ryan Phillippe and SNL’s Kristen Wiig) to help him, with wildly uneven results. Even when the evil arms dealer eludes them, they enjoy saying his name, Dieter Von Cunth, especially because the h is all but silent. (You can’t touch that either, NBC suits!) Wiig draws on her special skills at playing women who are somewhere between plucky and damaged; Phillippe is a nice comedy surprise as straight man among the buffoons.
Well aware that sometimes all a moviegoer wants is to be entertained by the sight of a guy proudly displaying a stalk of celery inserted between his naked butt cheeks, I still hope and dream that such a moviegoer wants more than MacGruber. C-