Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Video review: "MacGruber"

The batting average for "Saturday Night Live" comedy skits making the transition to the big screen is appallingly low.

After 35 years, "Wayne's World" is the only real success story. (I don't count "The Blues Brothers" because they appeared on "SNL" as a musical act.) Even with that ignominious track record, "MacGruber" was a flop of epic proportions.

Heck, "The Ladies' Man" grossed more at the box office.

It's not hard to see why. The TV sketches, which tended to run a minute or less, were modestly amusing parodies of 1980s show "MacGyver." Trying to sustain that over a 90-minute film is a daunting enough challenge, and the creative team of Will Forte, Jorma Taccone and John Solomon are simply not up to the task.

Forte plays the title character, a ridiculously incompetent special-ops agent, with such over-the-top buffoonery that he's essentially a one-joke character: The massive gulf between MacGruber's inflated ego and his actual ability.

Strangely, the signature talent of MacGruber -- using bits of everyday junk to whip up gizmos or defuse ticking time bombs -- is only utilized a couple of times.
After this disastrous movie, I can think of a few people whose film careers have already counted down to zero.

Video extras, which are the same for Blu-ray and DVD formats, are nothing to brag about. There's one 45-second deleted scene, an 8-minute blooper reel and a special "unrated" version that adds about four minutes to the film's run time. Other than a few more f-bombs and extended shots of Forte's frequently naked behind, there's not much there.

An audio commentary by screenwriters Forte, Taccone (who also directed) and Solomon is telling. Taccone announces at the beginning that he's playing a one-man drinking game, taking a hit every time the name "MacGruber" is said, and although we can't see him Taccone's blurry, unfocused commentary would seem to prove that he carried out his threat.

Solomon, meanwhile, appears intermittently by phone, having to be told by the other two what they're seeing onscreen. Yes, that's right, this is an audio commentary that is literally being phoned in!

Maybe this is why "It's Pat" has a new rival for the title of "Worst SNL Movie."

Movie: 1.5 stars
Extras: 2 stars

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