Directed by: Jorma Taccone
Written by: Will Forte and John Solomon
Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer
It’s important to know the context a movie was made in before you begin examining it. Some films are made to provoke thought, others to send a message. There are many (many!) movies made today, though, that were made purely as an entertainment and nothing else. When you look at MacGruber that way (and only that way), it’s decent.
The star of this show is not it’s director, in fact quite the opposite. This 90 minute feature based on a recurring 90 second sketch on Saturday Night Live is all about the script and the actors. In fact, director Jorma Taccone over compensates immensely with what should have been a cut-and-dry directing job. This movie is supposed to be a send-up of all things bad in 80’s action movies, and he’s given it a visual style that unintentionally mocks itself at times. A movie such as this needs a director who can back off and let his actors fly with a script, not use artsy lighting techniques that destroy the mood.
That complaint aside, the ensemble cast is by far the highlight of this film. I was skeptical of Will Forte’s ability to hold the screen for longer than the length of the original sketch, but he does a decent job. There are times when you will be sitting there going “Should I laugh?” and others where you won’t be able to stop doing so. It’s a roller coaster with a few jerks, but a welcome break from the latest Will Ferrell disaster.
The rest of the cast in this movie also insight several laughs. Kristen Wiig and Val Kilmer in particular go above and beyond the call of duty. Ryan Phillippe may be a little out of place, but you can tell he had a ball showing people he could be in a comedy. The R-rating really lets the cast go for broke, and sometimes cash in.
As mentioned earlier, this film is intended to send up 80’s action cliches, and where that’s concerned it does a decent job. Forte and co-writer John Solomon do a fine job exposing the hidden homo-erotic undertones of many of those films, as well as the boring plot twists and over-dramatic screaming. Is this movie Citizen Kane? No, but it isn’t Big Momma’s House either.