Friday, 25 June 2010



MacGruber has zero laughs. Not a one. Not so much as a smirk. Nor is it even close to exciting - not even in the same thrillzone as something as edge-of-the-seat as Up In The Air, My Little Pony Goes To FluffyLand or those TV monologues with the late Thora Hird. Even if you find the shipping forecast or an advert for the summer sale at DFS to be a bit of a nerve-shredding experience, you're not going to so much as break a sweat with this film. Which, given that this is nominally designated as an action comedy, means that it's two strikes already and has to fall back on simple film-making craftsmanship and technical merits. Er, no. Strike three, you're out. Thanks for playing. Kindly leave the field.

The basic idea of MacGruber is that it's a spoof of MacGyver, the 80s TV show in which Richard Dean Anderson got himself out of tight scrapes and blew up villains' hideouts with sellotape, detergent and cardboard. MacGruber is a legendary American Special Forces operative who is called out of retirement when Val Kilmer steals a nuclear missile. MacGruber puts together a team, accidentally kills them all, puts together another team and generally makes a hash of everything. MacGruber is a hopeless idiot who is not fit to kiss the soles of his obvious inspiration Lt Frank Drebin's carpet slippers. Enthusiastic, determined, but useless, brainless and spectacularly, yet remarkably unamusingly, dumb.

He's played by one Will Forte, of whom I've heard precisely nothing but apparently he's big on American TV. The character of MacGruber actually originated on Saturday Night Live - which doesn't get any significant airing, if any airing at all, on British TV. So it's a film starring a complete unknown, about a character we've never experienced from a TV show we've never seen, parodying a TV show that's a quarter of a century old. And this has been released onto British cinema screens because....? (Whatever the reasons, it's been pretty much removed from the circuits after a week.)

As the villain, and the biggest star attached, Val Kilmer plainly regrets ever signing on, but was probably in possession of a larger-than-expected gas bill because there's no other reason on God's good Earth for him to be doing this. He's the basis of the one sole joke - and it's not a good one - in the entire film. Here come those intimations of a very rude word: his character name is Dieter Von Cunth. Isn't that the greatest joke? Because it's those letters, the C and the U and so on: isn't that hilarious? In the way that you're comedically obliged to laugh at the word Scunthorpe.

It's repugnantly gross (eating a piece of celery that you've just stuck up your bum: oh, the hilarity), the hero is nothing more than an imbecilic braggart and if you could be bothered, you could even argue there's a faintly homophobic tinge to it - MacGruber drops one of his team members when he finds out they're gay; MacGruber offers oral relief to Ryan Phillippe (humiliating himself) and Powers Boothe (ditto). What you can't argue with any conviction is that it's rubbish: perfunctorily directed, childish humour centred on bums and willies and rude words, and it isn't funny. If Troma remade The A-Team or Rambo, this is what it would look like. And that is not a recommendation.


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