Being at Stanford has a lot of perks, from access to leading researchers in all disciplines to the nurturing effect of a brilliant student body. Tonight, I got to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity that makes it clear to me why so many teenagers clamor to be accepted to Stanford: an advance screening of Will Forte’s new movie, MacGruber, put on by FLiCKS and Universal. Trust me when I say this: this is not a date movie.
If you’re not familiar with it, MacGruber is a recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live where Will Forte, as MacGruber, is stuck in a control room and must deactivate some sort of bomb. Inevitably, his MacGyver-like inventiveness to use common objects to disarm the bomb is thwarted by personal problems, including racism, his son’s homosexuality, and his fear of old age. You can watch most of the clips on Hulu (hint: he never disarms it in time).
Given the absurdity of the sketch, you can imagine my incredulity when I heard that they were making a full-length feature movie out of it, and having seen it, you can imagine my incredulity that they made a full-length feature movie out of it. In it, MacGruber (Will Forte) comes out of hiding to stop Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) from using an X-5 missile to attack the United States. To do it, he puts together a team of Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) and Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and bumbles through ultra-sticky situations to locate and disarm the missile.
I am currently at a completely loss as to how I can continue this review. Although I feel that the review of a movie should be removed from the movie itself, I simply cannot see how I can write a non-rated R description of it. Consider yourself warned.
Simply, I feel like a worse person for having watched at laughed at that movie. Expect your token amount of foul language for a rated R comedy, but also expect the jokes about human excrement, male genitalia, senseless violence, and sex. If you think that watching a naked man hopping around, with only one hand and a vegetable for modesty, make you uncomfortable, be prepared to watch a movie that’ll make you uncomfortable. If that sounds like a perfect movie to watch with the guys, you are in for an onslaught as you might even miss jokes because you’re still giggling from the last one.
Like any parody, it also mocks all of the classic movie tropes, such as the hero, crumbling to the ground and screaming in rage to the sky. Don’t get me wrong: this movie is absolutely an action movie, and there was serious effort put in to make it a full-scale production. The action most reminds me of Tropic Thunder or Hot Shots!, and I think you’ll appreciate it more for every action movie you have watched.
To round out the genres, though, it also has a romantic sub-plot between MacGruber and Vicki. It definitely doesn’t match up to The Notebook, but Forte and Wiig do an excellent job providing all of the awkwardness you could ever need to reassure you how ridiculous any movie romance is. They both put a whole-hearted effort into acting at a professional level, so you’ll miss the small gaffes and breaks in character from SNL, but you can absolutely believe their sincerity in the movie.
The rest of the cast does a good job supporting the title character. Ryan Phillippe as Lt. Dixon Piper plays the serious cadet who reluctantly follows all of MacGruber’s shenanigans, giving an on-screen persona to the eye-roller in the audience. Val Kilmer as the baddie manages to mix the cold-heartedness, eccentricity, disgusting nature of any vaguely maniacal villain, and the seriousness with which he portrays his role is absolutely critical in showing how maladjusted MacGruber is.
Overall, it’s a 90 minutes you’ll never get back. You’ll laugh so hard you’ll cry, and you’ll cry to yourself for having laughed so hard. After having seen this, I very much believe that SNL is held back by the censors as this movie takes MacGruber to a very dark place where shame doesn’t exist. Thank goodness everyone is having such a good time there.