Saturday Night Live scraped the bottom of the barrel in its latest silver screen adaptation “MacGruber,” which garnered a measly $4.1 million opening weekend. Equally depressing was how SNL turned the largely enjoyable spoof into disgusting mire overflowing with F-bombs, barely disguised C-words and as what seemed as many bathroom jokes as swear words.
MacGruber (Will Forte), an ex-Navy Seal and ex-Army Ranger who has garnered 16 Purple Hearts and three Congressional Medals of Honor, has undergone a self-exile after his arch nemesis, influential businessman Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), murders his bride-to-be, Casey (Maya Rudolph), at the altar. But a nuclear warhead has gone missing and Cunth is believed to be the culprit. Desperate for answers the military once again calls their most versatile weapon, the mullet-sporting MacGruber. MacGruber, hoping to avenge Casey’s death, assembles a team with Casey’s best friend (Kristen Wiig) and a recent military school graduate (Ryan Phillippe) who is eager to become an equally decorated officer.
If you watched the preview you’ve already seen some of the most intelligent humor in the film, and the least offensive. After a few minutes of light humor surrounding MacGruber’s impressive military accomplishments, the film dives into a manure heap of male nudity, jokes on homosexuality and sex noises and even a light reference to abortion on demand.
The opening credits roll to an orchestrated version of MacGruber’s SNL theme song, complete with an added line: “We made a f—ing movie–MacGruber!” That sums up the film. Everyone involved knew just how ridiculous the film idea was–much like “Snakes on a Plane,” though far less enjoyable–and made the film as extreme as possible. Unfortunately this rarely involved humor other than naked men (there’s a lot of MacGruber’s butt, with a celery stalk occasionally wiggling from it–which he later eats), jokes about going to the bathroom (which can be tolerated in moderation, but this film does not deal in moderation) and–I believe most perverse–an easy conversation making light of an abortion.
MacGruber is telling the story of why Cunth hates him. They used to be friends, but then, while Cunth was engaged to Casey, MacGruber and Casey started having an affair. They fell in love. Casey was pregnant with Cunth’s baby, but MacGruber asked her to “terminate the pregnancy. Which she did,” he says nonchalantly. This conversation is sandwiched in between a conversation about going to the bathroom and a joke about eating food out of people’s butts on one end, and a comic action sequence on the other, and is in no way meant to be a serious moment.
Even pro-abortionists, like Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir, see abortion as a significant decision. Writing of television advertisements on abortion in England, easily more serious than the MacGruber reference, she says, “It is the throwaway nonchalance that so offends; as if an abortion was just another lifestyle choice to be pondered over in … commercial breaks…” Or for MacGruber, as if abortion was on the level with, say, going to the bathroom.
I found the film largely without political agenda aside from its bottom-feeding attempts at hilarity, but the literal waste of society is hardly where I enjoy finding my humor, and the only redeeming element of the film, in the end, is its soundtrack. But no amount of 80s rock can save this kind of film, and it seems audiences nationwide realize the same thing. Hopefully SNL realizes it soon too, but I’m not holding my breath.