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SNL-Based MacGruber is Predictably Vulgar

  • Richard Abanes Contributing Writer
  • 2010 21 May
SNL-Based <i>MacGruber</i> is Predictably Vulgar

DVD Release Date:  September 7, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  May 21, 2010
Rating:  R (for strong sexual content, extremely crude humor, violence, profanity, and some nudity)
Genre:  Action Comedy/Spoof
Run Time:  99 minutes
Director:  Stan Foster
Actors:  Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer, Powers Boothe, Maya Rudolph

I was a fan of the original MacGyver series, starring Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate: SG-1), as the resourceful, carefree, and unstoppable American secret agent. I was both fascinated and entertained by the complex devices/weapons that this hero of heroes would fashion in life-or-death situations using only the crudest of raw materials (e.g., household cleaning supplies, pins/needles, shoe laces).

Although the series ended in 1992, MacGyver and his unusual prowess at constructing complicated military/spy items became part of American pop culture—a comical example, if you will, of extreme individualism, beating impossible odds, fantasy solutions to life's challenges, and the ultimate hero figure.

Not surprisingly, Saturday Night Live picked up on the MacGyver obsession and responded with a series of parody skits—MacGruber, featuring Will Forte (Saturday Night Live) as our hero and Kristen Wiig (Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs) as his blonde-bombshell sidekick, Vicki St. Elmo. They brilliantly reprise their SNL roles in this full-length movie that follows the newest mission of the MacGyver/MacGruber character.

It's a tried and true saga—i.e., the ex-military hero who has given up his killing ways to pursue a path of peace. But his desire for a new life is interrupted by one last mission that he must take in order to clear his conscience by righting a past wrong, or atoning for a tragedy that was his fault.

The movie is full of classic Saturday Night Live spoof material, blended with the kind of parody jabs seen in such films as Airplane and The Naked Gun. MacGruber, however, is far better than any other parody I've seen to date. It's truly funny, especially where the movie uses camera angles, action, lighting, and assorted cinema techniques that perfectly reflect the look/feel of the TV show.

What also makes this film work so well is how the script is read with no hint of comedy. Lines flow as if it were a real action/adventure piece. The serious-sounding dialogue (which in reality, is comprised of absurd lines), the interaction between the actors, and the scenarios make it terribly amusing. This is particularly true when it comes to the line delivery of veteran actors Val Kilmer (Top Gun, Batman Forever), as the arch-nemesis of MacGruber, and Powers Boothe (Sin City, Nixon, Men of Honor), as MacGruber's commanding officer. These characters read their lines as dramatically as if they were actually in a far more serious film such as Three Kings, Rambo, or Die Hard. It's nothing short of hysterical.

Some of the most outrageously funny moments involve actors dressing up as other characters, a coffee shop scene where one of MacGruber's "team" is trying to lure out the villain, and MacGruber's emotional breakdown when it appears he might be relieved of duty because of a terrific mistake he makes even before the mission begins. Forte shines as MacGruber and is perfectly complimented by Wiig. Their comedic chemistry is spot on.

Having noted how expertly this movie is produced, filmed, and acted, I'd be remiss to not mention that there are many places where the humor and dialogue is simply too sharp, not only for younger audiences, but also for any adult with sensitivities to crude humor, heavy sexual innuendo, graphic displays of sexual activities, and profanity. From the standpoint of secular humor, it must be admitted that some of this material can bring an unbidden grin to the face, accompanied by a blush. But from a Judeo-Christian standpoint, much of it is just too over the top to be appreciated or enjoyed. It will most definitely be offensive to most conservative viewers.


  • Language/Profanity:  Lord's name ("Jesus" and "God") taken in vain several times; various characters use several forms of the "f" word liberally throughout the film, almost to excess; additional uses of foul language and vulgarities, including slang profanity, are sprinkled heavily throughout the movie.
  • Smoking/Drinking/Drugs:  None.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Partial nudity of MacGuber's buttocks in one scene and full rear nudity of MacGruber in another scene that is a sexually graphic situation (see following section). There is also a scene wherein an elderly woman's full breasts are shown as she is posing for a painting.
  • Sexual situations: This movie has intense, graphic, and crude sexual situations and jokes, including:  the villain has a notably vulgar name, which whenever spoken, invariably sounds like the crude slang word for a woman's genitals; sexual intercourse being graphically acted out (no nudity); dialogue that contains explicit references to specific homosexual acts, and humorous references to sexual body parts.
  • Violence:  Violence is on par with any action/adventure film—men shot in the torso/head, throats being literally ripped out (complete with spurts of blood), a man being crushed by a car, assorted fight scenes that end in death.