This weekend sees the release of MacGruber, an action-comedy starring Will Forte and Kristen Wiig, directed by comedian Jorma Taccone. The film is a feature-length expansion of the Saturday Night Live skits where Forte plays MacGruber, an inept special ops agent (and a riff on Richard Dean Anderson's iconic MacGyver character). It's also the first movie to be made from an SNL sketch since 2000's The Ladies Man. A good deal of the commentary surrounding the film has focused on the question of whether the world needs more Saturday Night Live movies--and whether it needs this one specifically.
- Dumbness May Work In Its Favor Jim Slotek at the Toronto Sun argues that what might seem like weaknesses are actually the movie's strengths. "Freed from network constraints, star/writer Will Forte and SNL director Jorma Taccone have taken an empty template and headed insanely South with it ... I can't think of an SNL project that elicited more reflexive hostility, sight unseen, than this one. And maybe that's its saving grace. It's hard to imagine MacGruber being as bad as people expected it to be. And that seems to have been strangely liberating to all involved to be surreally stupid."
- A Cut Above the Rest--But Have You Seen the Rest? The Boston Globe's Ty Burr is less indulgent. "The smugness that has infected so much 'SNL' product of, oh, the last 25 years — of reasonably talented comics knowing that if they're naughty enough they won't have to work too hard to be hilarious — eventually overtakes 'MacGruber,'" he writes. "Believe the hype: 'MacGruber' actually is the best 'SNL' movie since 'Wayne's World' — but only because the alternatives are 'It's Pat,' 'A Night at the Roxbury,' and 'The Ladies' Man.'"
- Kristen Wiig's the Best Thing About It Most reviewers agree that Wiig's turn as the besotted sidekick Vicki St. Elmo provides the movie with whatever smarts it has. At Vanity Fair, Eric Spitznagel sums up the critical love for Wiig. "Here are two sentences you won’t hear used together very often: 'Did you see the new movie with that Saturday Night Live actor? What a subtle, nuanced performance' ... But there are always exceptions to the rule." Spitznagel goes on to say that "something remarkable happens when Wiig leaves Studio 8H and walks onto a movie set. She becomes a master of restraint."
- Smart to Expand the Movie's Scope On TV, MacGruber is essentially a one-joke sketch, but Peter Travers of Rolling Stone appreciates the way the film becomes a freewheeling pastiche of all things '80s. "How the hell can you take an SNL skit that runs 90 seconds and stretch it to a 90-minute feature? Sounds excruciating," he writes. "But MacGruber breaks the jinx by putting the skit in the context of a 1980s action movie and creating its own brand of explosive lunacy."
- On the Other Hand... "MacGruber Is Every Bit the Terrible Movie You Thought It Would Be," reads the headline of Peter Simek's review at D Magazine. "MacGruber works itself out of its own badness because it never seemed to have wanted to be anything more than a bad movie in the first place," Simek writes. "This is the pattern of these Saturday Night Live skit movie spinoffs. They rarely work to a large extent because they relay on simply ramming the same 11:55 p.m. jokes at audiences over and over. It’s a formula that looks like good fun for the performers, but leaves audiences wondering why they thought the joke was funny in the first place."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.