After ‘Hot Shots!’, ‘Austin Powers’ and ‘Team America’, is there still mileage in the slapstick action-movie pastiche? Based on a recurring ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch – itself ‘inspired’ by ’80s cheeseball spy show ‘MacGyver’ – ‘MacGruber’ sees SNL stalwart Will Forte’s titular secret agent rousted from a jungle retreat and pressed into CIA service in an effort to track down Val Kilmer’s nuclear-warhead-wielding terrorist, Dieter von Cunth. That name typifies the kind of humour on offer: amusing enough the first time, but increasingly unfunny on the thirty-third. There are a handful of quality gags – most of them at the expense of mullet-man MacGruber’s Clarksonesque fashion sense – and Forte surrounds himself with solid performers, notably Kilmer as the preening psychopath and Powers Boothe as a grouchy CIA bigwig.
But it all feels terribly routine, and as the script attempts to paper over the gaps between good gags with graphic sex, extreme violence and pratfalls, it becomes clear that this particular well has run bone dry.