Can today’s audiences actually remember—much less fondly—those smarmy-serious TV action series of the 1980s? These were terrible shows (brace yourself for this summer’s The A-Team); when Will Forte does his recurring parody of MacGyver on SNL, you thank a number of gods that his bomb defusings never last longer than a minute and a half.
So call it a shock that a MacGruber movie works at all, and sometimes well (in fits and starts). Cut loose from the skit structure, screenwriters Forte, John Solomon and director Jorma Taccone seize upon a richer template, that of the ridiculous big-screen action-comedy refined by the Beverly Hills Cop movies. Our hero, though living in a modern world, still yanks his portable Blaupunkt stereo out of his Mazda Miata and gazes from behind side-shielded Ray-Bans. His woman, Vicki (Wiig), is trapped in a similar feathered time warp, putting on hold her Christine McVie--ish aspirations to rejoin the squad and kick ass.
The meal here is mainly nostalgia, larded with a thick sauce of irony; Powers Boothe’s intense Rambo-esque commander certainly doesn’t hurt, and Forte unleashes some championship assholery (plus some mind-scarring sex noises). It will get old for you, but until then, MacGruber plays like a sly brother to Hot Tub Time Machine, made for a generation that should know better than to smirk.—Joshua Rothkopf
Watch the trailer