MacGruber Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated June 27th, 2013 at 3:12 pm,

macgruber image 4 MacGruber Review
Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw reviews MacGruber

I went into MacGruber with low expectations. After all, movies adapted from SNL sketches have largely been agonizing experiences ever since the days of Wayne’s World passed us by. And at this point, The Blues Brothers seems like a gift from God, rather than a testament to the comedic potential of good SNL turned movie.

So it’s understandable why many people would turn their noses up at the notion that a Saturday Night Live sketch about a MacGyver knock-off, who constantly blows himself up, could be adapted into a feature-length action/comedy. Thankfully for us all, the filmmakers abandon the constrictive premise of the MacGruber SNL sketch and dive headfirst into some wonderfully demented comedic territory.

The “plot” of MacGruber is lifted straight out of your favorite late 80s/early 90s action flick: The brilliant and ruthless Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) has stolen a nuclear warhead, which he intends to unleash upon Washington D.C.  The military powers-that-be move to stop Cunth, but only one man, on Earth, is truly manly enough to do the job: Cunth’s arch-nemesis, MacGruber.

Col. James Faith (Powers Boothe) and Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) track the allegedly deceased super secret agent to a remote village and implore him to once again don his fishing vest uniform, if only to get revenge on Cunth, the man who murdered MacGruber’s true love on their wedding day (the cliches keep coming). Our hero sets out to round up a team of hard-hitters – that doesn’t go so well, so he gets his old friend Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) the master of disguise, and with his team in tow, MacGruber heads off to “pound some Cunth.”

MacGruber official image1 MacGruber Review

From there the movie is pretty much a series of scenes that work like small SNL sketches in and of themselves – that is if SNL was on late-night pay-per-view. Most of the time, the comedy is loose and silly – slapstick, repeating sight gags, sound gags, mild dirty jokes and such – until without warning the tone shifts into some bizarre and gross moments of truly raunchy comedy.

I won’t spoil a single moment for you, but if you’re going into MacGruber expecting nothing but a stupid MacGyver spoof, you may want to think again. This film earns every inch of its “R” rating – earns it and wears it like a badge of honor. There were moments when I was in tears; granted, I was asking myself what strange universe I had fallen into, but I did know one thing: it was a damn funny one. And the cast and crew deserve all the credit.

SNL vets Will Forte and Kristen Wiig are totally on point. Wiig plays her usual quiet quirky character, but it’s a perfect (and I mean perfect) foil for the Tour De Force who is Will Forte. He may not be the SNL member whose face pops up first and foremost in your mind – but just try to forget him after the soon-to-be-infamous “celery scene.” Forte unleashed is truly awesome to behold, and though MacGruber is probably the dumbest idiot action hero ever conceived, Forte still manages to give him a swagger and attitude that almost puts him up there with some of the 80s action heroes he seeks to spoof. Just don’t ask yourself how this bumbling dumbass ever got to be such a tough guy legend – your head will explode.

Forte also co-wrote the film along with veteran SNL writers John Solomon and Jorma Taccone. The three obviously work well together, and if nothing else, they are fearless. MacGruber skins itself in the cliched plot of a 80/90s action flick, yes, but that skin is packed with a bunch of jokes that hit more often than miss; kept me at least chuckling most of the time; and the seriously demented parts are so far out there, and so funny, that I’m not sure anybody in the theater truly saw every moment.

What’s also impressive is the work of Jorma Taccone as a director. Taccone has been involved in some of SNL‘s best digital shorts, and when they’re playing things straight, MacGruber actually looks like a pretty impressive action flick. The opening scene, (Cunth’s team hijacking the nuclear warhead) actually had me excited like I was about to see a real action flick. If there are any superhero movies about slightly demented heroes anybody wants to make, I nominate this guy.

Aiding and abetting the hilarity in this film are the guys given the dirty job of playing things straight. It’s good to see Ryan Phillippe back onscreen, he’s a good pick to play the one sane soldier who can tell that MacGruber is a complete dumbass. By the end of the film, Phillippe joins his comedic partners Forte and Wiig in the deep end, and props to him for swimming there. Powers Boothe, with his famous cold-eyed intensity, makes every awkward scene he shares with Forte that much more funny – everybody is totally committed and the entire cast plays off one another well.

While he spends most of the film on his own, Val Kilmer is great as Von Cunth, delivering a villain who is part cliche, part menace and part Kilmer-brand weirdo. It’s pretty great – though the fact that Kilmer is looking like Steven Segeal these days is not so great… for him. For us it’s pretty great.

So, you know what? Don’t even listen to me or any other critic, for that matter. Go into MacGruber with your low expectations and just let the movie hit you. And it will hit you – full-on in your face and when it does, it will do things to you. Things you will remember (and be laughing at) days later.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. I still can’t believe this guy in the present was ever Batman

    .. even Keaton looks better these days

  2. I’ve suddenly lost a little faith in ur reviews any thing over 2 stars is a joke.

    • Well, the reviews so far have been positive. I was like you when I first saw the trailer, this must be a joke. But since the reviews haven’t been that bad, I think I will check this out.

    • Based on what I’ve been reading this definitely seems like a “depends on your taste in comedy” kind of movie. If you don’t mind super-crass humor I guess it works. I don’t mind up to a point (I loved The Hangover) but there’s a line past which I don’t think things are funny any more (I haven’t seen this yet, so I don’t know what side it falls on for me).


    • Daniel F,

      Did you see the movie and not like it? Or do you just think it looks stupid?

      I’m just curious, not picking a fight or anything.

  3. Is it like Hot Rod?

    Because Hot Rod was DUMB, but it was one of the funniest movies ive ever seen.

    Or Pineapple Express, that was rated R crazy over the top comedy.

    I cant grasp this movies genre, i wont see it until i know what ype of comedy it is.

    • I would say it’s like Hot Rod meets PE. There is bloody violence, dumb humor, and stuff that is not so much just crass, but downright baffling and bizarre. And for me it was all HILARIOUS.

  4. Sold! Thanks for the great review. ^_^

  5. Even the review made me laugh. I hereby nominate “Dieter Von Cunth” for best comedy character name since “Gaylord Focker”.

  6. It was a pretty solid comedy…. but I can see how it would be a “love it or hate it” kinda deal.

    I went in with low expectations, (despite having dressed up as MacGruber) and had a pretty good time.

    I will warn you if you think there is too much cussing in a Kevin Smith film, then this movie won’t work for you.

  7. I’m surprised. The trailers make it look bad, and the microscopic reviewer references under the quotes in the trailers validated that. I guess I may give it a chance.

  8. I completely agree with your review Kofi. I’d give it either a 3.5 or a 4 out of 5 myself. Which part was your favorite? I laughed the most when they set up the trap in the control room and the bad guys walked into it.

  9. I actually saw it and it was to idiotic to the point that it wasn’t funny it was just a sad moment for society. I’ll get this out of the way I hate Will Ferral style comedy I think it shows how far the viewing audience has sank. With that said this made Will Ferral films look brillant in comparrison. After watching this I might actually be able to laugh at one of Will’s movies given that this film made me Lise about 20 IQ points. SNL hasn’t been funny in over a decade and neither has it’s movies nor it’s cast from the lest decade. Will Ferral and Jimmy Fallen helped destroy SNL and made it incredibly unfunny. Thanks to them we get skits andcmivies like this.

    • So what movies do you like???

    • I have to agree with you, Daniel. My 32 year old son and I went to see this and both of us hated it. There were a couple of scenes that made me laugh (the diner scene and the final scene at the ridge) but overall it was just too much stupity for me. I mean, I really liked the Airplane movies, so I thought I would like this but I didn’t. I would give this movie 2 out of 5.

  10. Kofi,
    Good review, I have to ask 2 questions. ^
    Why only a 3.5 sounds like a 5!?

    And when does this hit the streets (release date?)

    Nice photos,,,

    I hope when they release the Dvd they put ALL the MacGruber SNL skits on the disc as a bonus. They wouldn’t take up that much space. I would even purchase a 2 disc version of those were included.

    Hint Hint!!!!

    • Did you see the ones with Betty White? Pretty dang funny

  11. 790,
    I havent seen it ,but this film came out today.

  12. Thanks Gary, that’s great news I’m going to see this Monday!

    Can’t wait!

  13. Great review, I was hoping this movie would turn out exactly as you reviewed it. Thanks Kofi. Next trip to the theater.

  14. I hear this thing is tanking HARD at the box office…

  15. I actually really wanted to see this movie. Kristen Wig is freakin’ hilarious!

  16. Just saw it. It truly sucked. I want my money back. That’s an hour and a half of my life that I will NEVER get back. The funniest parts of the movie were what was seen in the trailer. Don’t waste your money on this piece of crap.

  17. You heard right Vic. Understandable that it’s brainy beat by shrek, IM and to a lessar extent robin hood but it’s getting beat by Letters To Juliet lol. Prefering at 5th does not a good start make. 1.6 mil opening day means best it can hope for if it gets really really really lucky is a 6 mil weekend barely getting 4 is more likely.

  18. I can’t believe people pay to see that crap called Shrek.

  19. So far the reviews don’t look so good either even MTV is bashing now that says something. MTV actually bashed it given their impossibly low standerds that says something and when MTV says there is to much poop humor that’s like Fran dresher saying u have an annoying voice.

    • Nobody saying that this is by any means a SMART film. But I think it will be enjoyable to people – once they get past their own negative impression of it.

      When it hits DVD/Cable I suspect it will have a more of a following.

  20. I don’t place any faith in the mainstream.

    Unlike Kofis 3.5 review but he loved it, I’m going to see it anyway.

    I have a good feeling about 2 things, Will Forte and the R rating !!!

  21. Having not yet seen the movie I can’t say much. I will say that I expected it to be hilarious, but after reading multiple reviews and hearing various things from people I will now go into the movie with lower expectations. Who knows…this may provide for an improved viewing experience (granted the movie isn’t as dumb as some people make it out to be). I think some people are just too serious and are offended too easily. I still expect I’ll see this sooner or later and will achieve some mild enjoyment. Safe to say though I am disappointed in the reviews so far.

  22. That movie was ok. But I am so looking forward to seeing the new movie “Get Him to the Greek”. It looks like
    its gonna be so funny! Anyone else going to see it?

  23. “Get Him To The Greek” is actually premiering tonight at the Greek Theatre, right as we speak…
    Should see the reviews tomorrow in Variety and Hollywood Reporter…

  24. I must say, I was not thrilled with this film. I found myself glaring at my watch several times and it wouldn’t end fast enough. It was no where NEAR as good as “The Hangover”. I expected a bit more from the folks over at SNL, but I guess ya can’t win them all.

    Get Him to The Greek will knock this picture out.

  25. A million times better than “Avatar”… of course “air bud 2: golden reciever” was better than “Avatar”.

  26. I’m totally looking forward to this

  27. I thought MacGruber was absolutely hilarious. Quickfire jokes and jokes that were built on throughout the movie. The revenge notebook scene was hilarious.

  28. SO Kofi, is the along the lines of Anchorman or Happy Gilmore? While the latter is a classic, hysterical comedy that I can watch repeated and enjoy every second, Anchorman was totally horrible. Barely made it through that film. Either way I will check this out once it hits Netflix, but I am NOT wasting $9.50 on this film-I’d rather go see Iron Man 2 again.

  29. It was bound to happen. The reviews from this site hit pretty close to home with my tastes but this one did not. This movie was bad. There were some funny moments but not enough to make up for the rest of this flop.

    • @Ody

      I used to review all the movies here on the site but now we have multiple reviewers, so if your tastes fall in line with a particular writer’s you’ll need to pay attention to who wrote the review.