You might think feature length adaptations of shorts or TV characters don’t work as well as their counterparts but there are a fair few exceptions that will push Shane Acker’s 9 to the back of your mind. For better or worse, the exciting Saw short from James Wan spawned a multi-feature franchise, while The Evil Dead, Bottle Rocket, Office Space, THX 1138 and most recently District 9 first found audiences in their relative bitesize chunks.
Not a short of sorts, but a recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live, MacGruber is the latest to make the jump up to the silver screen. Parodying the late 80s TV character MacGyver, a super-intelligent secret agent who time and again seemingly got himself out of even the most impossible situations using you might think were entirely useless every day objects. MacGruber is more of the same, only to the nth degree, and in his film debut he (Forte) attempts to foil the plot of a master villain, and his nemesis, who takes control of a nuclear warhead and kidnaps MacGruber’s partner while he’s at it. That’s pretty much the whole plot, with time on the side filled with funny quirks and set-pieces to keep you interested.
Plot-wise, MacGruber is fairly light, but that was probably always to be expected. The script though is funny, if a little all over the place, but there’s certainly talent shown by the team behind the camera. The parody elements are used well and don’t feel clichéd the way that similar films have fallen down.
Several wrestlers make great cameos towards the start and really the acting the whole cast is entertaining and effortlessly watchable. In the lead role Will Forte is fantastic, and set for much bigger things in the future after similarly great appearances TV shows How I Met Your Mother and 30 Rock. Kristen Wiig feels a little diluted from her usual charisma, but she’s still good as one of MacGruber’s sidekicks; the other being a resurgent Ryan Phillippe, who will win you back around if you had been doubting his talents of late.
Definitely not a classic spy caper parody, the action for instance doesn’t go for much beyond competency and the narrative feels like it goes missing at some point, severely losing focus, MacGruber though is a lot of fun and certainly very funny. If you’re a fan of the SNL sketch, you’ll like what you see here, though newcomers might be left asking why they bothered to adapt it for the big screen at all.