This weekend sees the release of MacGruber, an action-comedy starring
Will Forte and Kristen Wiig, directed by comedian Jorma Taccone. The
film is a feature-length expansion of the Saturday Night Live skits
where Forte plays MacGruber, an inept special ops agent
(and a riff on Richard Dean Anderson's iconic MacGyver character). It's
also the first movie to be made from an SNL sketch since 2000's The
Ladies Man. A good deal of the commentary surrounding the film has
focused on the question of whether the world needs more Saturday Night
Live movies--and whether it needs this one specifically.
- Dumbness May Work In Its Favor Jim Slotek
at the Toronto Sun argues that what might seem like weaknesses are
actually the movie's strengths. "Freed from network constraints,
star/writer Will Forte and SNL director Jorma Taccone have taken an
empty template and headed insanely South with it ... I can't think of
an SNL project that elicited more reflexive hostility, sight unseen,
than this one. And maybe that's its saving grace. It's hard to imagine
MacGruber being as bad as people expected it to be. And that seems to
have been strangely liberating to all involved to be surreally stupid."
- A Cut Above the Rest--But Have You Seen the Rest? The Boston Globe's Ty Burr
is less indulgent. "The smugness that has infected so much 'SNL'
product of, oh, the last 25 years — of reasonably talented comics
knowing that if they're naughty enough they won't have to work too hard
to be hilarious — eventually overtakes 'MacGruber,'" he writes.
"Believe the hype: 'MacGruber' actually is the best 'SNL' movie since
'Wayne's World' — but only because the alternatives are 'It's Pat,' 'A
Night at the Roxbury,' and 'The Ladies' Man.'"
- Kristen Wiig's
the Best Thing About It Most reviewers agree that Wiig's turn as the
besotted sidekick Vicki St. Elmo provides the movie with whatever
smarts it has. At Vanity Fair, Eric Spitznagel
sums up the critical love for Wiig. "Here are two sentences you won’t
hear used together very often: 'Did you see the new movie with that
Saturday Night Live actor? What a subtle, nuanced performance' ... But
there are always exceptions to the rule." Spitznagel goes on to say
that "something remarkable happens when Wiig leaves Studio 8H and walks
onto a movie set. She becomes a master of restraint."
- Smart to Expand the Movie's Scope On TV, MacGruber is essentially a one-joke sketch, but Peter Travers
of Rolling Stone appreciates the way the film becomes a freewheeling
pastiche of all things '80s. "How the hell can you take an SNL
skit that runs 90 seconds and stretch it to a 90-minute feature? Sounds
excruciating," he writes. "But MacGruber breaks the jinx by putting the
skit in the context of a 1980s action movie and creating its own brand
of explosive lunacy."
- On the Other Hand... "MacGruber Is Every Bit the Terrible Movie You Thought It Would Be," reads the headline of Peter Simek's review at D Magazine. "MacGruber works itself out of its own badness because it never seemed to have
wanted to be anything more than a bad movie in the first place," Simek
writes. "This is the pattern of these Saturday Night Live skit movie
spinoffs. They rarely work to a large extent because they relay on
simply ramming the same 11:55 p.m. jokes at audiences over and over.
It’s a formula that looks like good fun for the performers, but leaves
audiences wondering why they thought the joke was funny in the first
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