Review: 'MacGruber' Is a MacWaste of Time

“MacGruber” is an awful film. It's the worst film that I've seen in a movie theater this year. Based on an intermittently funny Saturday Night Live" sketch, “MacGruber” ultimately falls flat and is often both unfunny and obscene.


A typical "MacGruber" "SNL" sketch looks like this: MacGruber is tasked with disarming a time bomb within 30 seconds or so, he gets distracted by less urgent matters which causes him to fail in his mission, and the bomb explodes killing everyone. It's a spoof of the show "MacGyver," where the lead character was often an expert at getting out of tough situations and escaping from death traps set out for him. (For the record, if there is one thing that “MacGruber” should point to, it’s the fact that the show “MacGyver,” and not this limp satire of it, merits its own motion picture.)

The film “MacGruber” focuses on MacGruber (Will Forte), a military expert, who is re-enlisted by the military to seek vengeance against Dieter Von Cunth (played by Val Kilmer), the man who killed his wife on their wedding day. MacGruber is known as a hero who many believed had died years before. Although he wants to remain in his new life, MacGruber leaves his retirement and brings a team together on a mission against Cunth, a team that he accidentally kills minutes after they are introduced. They are killed because MacGruber, this supposed military hero, is a complete idiot. From there, MacGruber starts a new team with Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig), another former military teammate of his, and Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe), a young admirer of MacGruber's.

While the "SNL" Macgruber sketches can be funny on occasion, this entire movie is utterly dependent on crude, classless, and tasteless humor. For instance, one of MacGruber’s tricks is to distract bad guys by walking around naked with a celery stick behind his butt. Also, when MacGruber is taken off the case against Cunth, he lets Piper know that he will do anything to get his job back, including sleeping with Piper or having sex with different objects in the room.

Yes, it's that kind of movie.

But the movie stretches beyond typical gross-out jokes. MacGruber also tells the story about how he told his girlfriend to have an abortion because he did not want another person’s child in his life. This story is played for laughs but does not receive any.

Admittedly, there were a few funny bits in the film. Wiig is pleasant as Vicki St. Elmo and makes the most of her limited material. She is especially funny in a scene where she is forced to dress up as MacGruber and act like him in a coffee shop while the real MacGruber is being attacked. Watching her in an inane film like this one and enjoying her performance nonetheless speaks to her comedic talents. The rest of the cast, shall we say, disappoints.

It's also a let down a strong cast of named names is wasted on such shoddy material. Kristen Wiig has impressed on “Saturday Night Live” and in a small role in “Ghost Town," Ryan Phillippe has been effective in films like “Cruel Intentions,” “Crash,” and “Igby Goes Down,” just to name a few, and Val Kilmer is also much better than "MacGruber" allows him to be.

Ultimately, “MacGruber" is a failure. This cast deserved better, this "SNL" sketch deserved better, and the viewers deserved better.


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