25 May 2010

First Impressions: MacGruber!!!


One of the most hotly anticipated films of summer, MacGruber (2010) was an epic international cinematic event this past weekend. Literally hundreds flocked to the theaters to see this amazing accomplishment of film. Alright so it was basically pretty shitty even for an SNL movie and about guaranteed another decade absence of that brand from the multiplex. It's not entirely with failure, however and today I'll seek to prove that. Spoilers abound, but who cares:

The key to MacGruber should have been its parodic element. While I already discussed in detail the merits of transforming this sketch into a full length film, the end take was a direction altogether different from the source material. Stay with me here-

The film sought to be this simultaneous satire of both 80s Action Films and contemporary Action Films. The outrageousness of the film certainly met this end in some respects, but in actuality the film is simply far too stupid to have any part of it taken seriously. If you take a film like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) or even Hot Fuzz (2007), the intelligent writing, plot structure and metanarrative belays the film's true intention as parody rather than genre entry. MacGruber never pulls this off exactly - its certainly pretty funny, but too scattered, overly-fast paced, predictable and generally dumb for filmgoers to get any real meaning or smart satire out of it.

But I do think it was pretty funny, I barely stopped laughing the whole time, from the first drawn-out "MacGruber" theme to his sleeveless Monk training and questionable homophobia, MacGruber is consistently hilarious (although this probably has more to do with my own moronic personal tastes than good humour, I mean, I proudly own Deep Blue Sea [1999] on DVD). There is so much awesome crammed into these 88-minutes which should certainly read to our contemporary tastes rather than what we think of the 1980s (see also, Hot Tub Time Machine [2010]). There's a lot set up though, and I could see jokes coming from far away. I don't normally say this about movies because usually I actually can't predict jokes or set-pieces at all, but I could see everything that was going to happen in this one. That's just how predictable this thing is.

There's no modesty and the film pulls no punches. Which is sweet. It's a great entry to that R-Rated Canon of late, the comedies that really seek to go as far as they can to twist and frighten its loyal audiences. The sex scenes were graphic and disturbing (apparently they filmed it on Kristen Wiig's birthday). And it's safe to say that I'll never really look at celery the same again.

Do you want to talk about the characters? I guess, I dunno. It doesn't really matter. Most of the cast does a decent enough job. Ryan Philippe sells his straight man role pretty well but isn't really given anything to do other than...well get the actual job done. Val is fat, old and doesn't chew the scenery as much as he should have. Wiig is back in that subtly funny mode from Knocked Up (2007) and Adventureland (2009) and the rest are pretty ok. But really, this film is MacGruber's.

One thing I liked a lot actually was that that was his only name. Never given a first or last, never referred to by anything else, he is forever simply...MacGruber. Forte really hasn't had any kind of leading man experience and it's sad that the current crop of SNL dudes have about this and Hot Rod (2007) to their name. That's pretty rough. Forte is a thorough and merciless MacGruber, though and say what you want, he does a Cage-like job of selling this character to the max. The whoring, the desperation, the wienering-out of things, the crying, it's all there, paid in full. There really is this intense commitment to stupidity there that in some way is respectable.

The final bomb scene, identical to how the actual skits lay out was necessary. It was actually kind of cool, it's like "This is what usually leads into that Control Room Scenario," the entirely of the MacGruber Mission. Other than that, there's really not that much more here. We could probably get a bit more in-depth with the character of MacGruber, representative of American masculine overcompensation, insecurity and violent wish-fulfillment, but that would certainly be boring -- just simply not the MacGruber way.

God live America.

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