Unreal Movie Review: MacGruber


In all honesty, I had been pretty excited about the MacGruber movie for quite some time.  I don’t think the SNL sketch on which it is based is unbelievably funny or anything; my excitement for the movie had more to do with who was involved in making it.  Judging by the box office numbers, many people dismissed MacGruber, probably thinking that stretching an SNL sketch out to a 90-minute feature film was a bad idea.  It’s not like there isn’t a precedent.  As it turns out, MacGruber isn’t much like the sketch at all – it’s really more of a spoof movie than anything.  But was it funny?


The short answer is: yes.  MacGruber doesn’t try to be something it’s not.  Instead, the film embraces the silly and absurd and has no shame in doing whatever it takes for a laugh.  In fact, I felt like many of the jokes weren’t necessarily specific to MacGruber and, standing alone and out of context, would still be pretty funny.  Think Wet Hot American Summer, Hot Rod, and The Ten.  If you enjoyed those comedies (I sure did), then you’d probably like MacGruber a lot.  If you didn’t, well, then you may want to pass.  There is no doubt in my mind that many people will simply loathe this movie, but different strokes, I guess.

Will Forte plays MacGruber, a retired special ops agent who has seemingly served for every elite branch of the armed forces and has won seemingly every type of award given to soldiers.  He’s out of the game when the movie starts, content to live a quiet life of peace.  However, when Col. Faith (Powers Booth) informs him that Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) has acquired a nuclear warhead, MacGruber eventually agrees to come out of retirement for one last mission.  You see, Von Cunth killed MacGruber’s wife years ago, and this gives MacGruber the perfect chance for revenge on his archenemy.


After assembling a team of bad asses (all played by various professional wrestlers) and subsequently blowing them all up by accident, MacGruber is joined by Lt. Dixon Pepper (Ryan Phillipe) and Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig).  There three of them set out to pound some Cunth – MacGruber’s words, not mine.  It’s a very simply plot, of course, but what did you expect?

As I wrote above, the movie is indeed funny.  I didn’t laugh every two minutes, but I can safely say this was the hardest I’ve laughed in a movie theater for as long as I can remember.  And it wasn’t just a couple of laughs, either – at least five or six times, I found myself in hysterics.  Fortunately, I wasn’t alone, as the rest of the theater seemed to really dig the jokes, too.  Again, the humor is silly and sometimes shocking, but it’s nothing even approaching generic or safe.

Forte is great as MacGruber, who comes off more of an Inspector Gadget than a Jack Bauer – it seems inconceivable that he’d be able to do anything right, and you get the idea that dumb luck has carried him throughout his military career.  He does have one skill, though, that doesn’t manifest until the end of the movie – his ability to literally rip out throats.  This movie isn’t rated-R just for the swearing.  I almost always enjoy Wiig on SNL, and she’s just as enjoyable on the big screen.  Vicki St. Elmo is the perfect compliment to MacGruber, as she’s perhaps just as dim as he is.  Wiig and Forte have great chemistry together on screen, and the two of them have successfully created the funniest sex scene since Team America.  Good lord, was that scene funny.  Again, this movie isn’t rated-R just for the swearing.


Phillipe and Booth help ground the movie somewhat, as they play the straight men to MacGruber’s utter insanity.  The exchanges between Phillipe and Forte and between Booth and Forte are some of the funnier parts of the movie, as it’s always great watching a sane person interact with a walking parody.  For example, this little exchange between MacGruber and Col. Faith after MacGruber blew his team to smithereens really cracked me up:

Faith: They were nice funerals.

MacGruber: Did you like my eulogies?

Faith: I think you went a bit overboard in using the “F” word.

MacGruber: But they were really great f*cking guys!

If you think that’s funny, then you’ll probably like this movie as much as I did, as this is a pretty good representation of the jokes that are sprinkled throughout the movies dialogue.  If you don’t, then don’t waste your time.

Finally, Val Kilmer is great as Von Cunth, as he typifies the over-the-top criminal we’ve seen in action movies like Cobra.  My only complaint is that I wish he had more screen time.


It’s unfortunate that this movie did so poorly at the box office, regardless of whether or not it was actually funny.  The reason being that we need more R-rated comedies that pretty much do their own thing and are written by people who aren’t trying to make as large an audience as possible laugh, but are writing what they truly believe is funny.  Generic comedies are going to be around forever, and it’s nice to have an edgy alternative every once in awhile.  They won’t all be winners, of course, but MacGruber was good enough for me.  It made me laugh my ass off, and when it comes down to it, isn’t that all you can really ask of a comedy?  MacGruber was stupid and silly, but at times, had me in stitches.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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  1. great review!
    like you, i was super pumped for macgruber. i agree the movie had some great lines/very funny scenes. overall i was left a little disapointed. i would have liked to see wiig utilized more and i agree with you that kilmer was not on screen enough. i think macgruber on his own is tough to watch for a solid 90 minutes as his schtick seemed to get a little routine for me towards the end. i think the movie was one funny character short (i expected another snl alum as a funny accessory character) to break up the monotony of macgruber. that being said, some great scenes: every time macgruber dressed wiig up as himself (the exchange in he coffee shop), macgruber explaining why he doesnt undersatnad how cunth hates him, the final scene- “i am more like a three wire guy”.

    keep up the great reviews/articles!!!

  2. No one will go with me!! I want to see it so bad. I feel my only option is to blindfold a friend and once the movie starts remove the blindfold

  3. Someone asked me, is Macgruber good? I said “It’s terrible, it’s Awesome!” This movie is a freaking hidden treasure that many are going to miss out on. CULT CLASSIC. “He’s a Fucking Genius, Macgruber!”

  4. I wasn’t really expecting much out of this, just saw it because it was the next thing playing when I stopped in the theater with my girlfriend, but it really cracked me up. It may not be for everyone, but its a rare comedy that gets me to crack up as hard as I did 5 or so times during this movie. The sex scenes were amazing, I was literally in tears.

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