Friday, May 28, 2010

MACGRUBER Brings the Funny, and MORE!

Finally -- three day weekend! It's been a long week, but I am ready to kick back, chill out, and relax. Plus, one week from today, I'll be on a plane to CT for a week on the east coast. That's right - just in time to see the CELTICS kick ass in the NBA Finals.

Congrats to the Celtics on a huge win tonight. But, oh man, what a crazy game Thursday night between the Lakers and the Suns. Definitely one of the most exciting games of the playoffs thus far, although it was a tough loss for the Suns. What a series of back-and-forth baskets to close the game though. Hey, I guess Ron Artest was overdue for a big play, right? I will say though, TNT continues to be the best in the biz at NBA coverage. The pregame, halftime, and postgame Inside the NBA shows are all continually entertaining, and practically comedy shows in and of themselves. And kudos to Marv Albert for a great interview with President Obama earlier this week. Obama knows his hoops, and hey, he even had a "Question For Charles," in which he reminded the Round Mound of Rebound to stick to his diet. Meanwhile, the Celtics had a huge victory tonight in what was, to me, a must-win game against the Magic. If Orlando had managed to force a Game 7, it could have been disasterous for the Celtics, so I'm glad that the C's were able to close out the Magic and earn some time to rest up before the Finals.

I will say this about LA: I still do not like Kobe and the Lakers, but, I do enjoy being in a place where people actually pay attention to the NBA. I'm sure in CT the Celtics will be buried on the back page of the Sports Section behind some crap news about the latest UCONN Huskies drama. Lame.

- I am still not caught up on CHUCK. My DVR deleted the season finale because it inadvertantly got too full. But, I plan to finally catch it over the weekend thanks to the magic of digital distribution. Also need to catch up on the FOX Sunday Night finales as well as this week's JUSTIFIED. I was just so burnt-out on TV for a few days there following Lost and 24, I couldn't deal.

- That said ... deleting 24 and Lost from my DVR season-pass list ... very, very sad.

- Anyways, I know the movie has already sort of arrived and bombed, but, I want to go to bat a bit for one of the funnier movies i've seen in a while ...


- MacGruber very quickly flopped at the box-office, and that's too bad. The fact is, it's a pretty hilarious comedy - an over-the-top, very-random movie that is, frankly, the kind of comedy you don't see a lot of anymore. It's strictly comes from the same cartoonish lineage as wacky parody movies like The Naked Gun and Hot Shots. Actually, the latter is a pretty good reference point. If you've been waiting for a Hot Shots, Part 3 (and really, who hasn't been?), then MacGruber is for you. It's a pitch-perfect parody of 80's action flicks. So if you worship at the altar of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and occasionally, Steven Seagal, then please, go see MacGruber at once.

Here's the thing: I get why MacGruber is a near-impossible movie to market. It's a full-length film based on the flimsiest of characters - a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch that is basically a one-joke parody of TV's MacGuyver. On SNL, MacGruber was maybe good for a chuckle or two, but the sketches were never all that great, and quickly overstayed their welcome. As is typical of SNL, the character was brought back over and over again and what should have been a one-time gag was endlessly shoved down our throats. So, yeah, there was plenty of reason to be skeptical of a MacGruber movie. But, the lack of substance of the sketches ultimately proved to be a boon for the movie. Will Forte and co. were basically forced to start their story from scratch, and they found a great angle to center the movie around: forget about specifically parodying MacGuyver, or about working from the limited formula of the sketches, and just use MacGruber as the starting point from which the movie can poke fun at all sorts of old-school action movie conventions and cliches.

The movie throws a lot at you, but what's important in a crazy comedy like this is that the percentage of jokes that work remains high. And I think MacGruber succeeds on that count. I was laughing pretty consistently throughout the film, and there are several moments that are simply drop-dead hilarious. There is an extended sex scene in the movie that is easily among the funniest things I've seen at the movies this year. And there are some other moments that are similarly shocking and hilarious. That sex scene is so funny in part because it is a totally spot-on parody of the typical action movie sex scene (reminded me of Highlander in particular). And other parts of MacGruber will be instantly familar to those schooled in the lore of classic action. You've got your Rambo-style opening, your Predator-esque "recruiting the team of badasses" sequence (complete with multiple handshakes-o-doom) and you've got your classic villain hellbent on revenge, with Val Kilmer playing a sort of bizarro version of Steven Seagal.

MacGruber also works so well because it has some great, legit action-movie actors, like Kilmer, going all-out - playing their parts with the same intensity as if they were in a drama. Kilmer is a riot as the weapon-obsessed villain. POWERS BOOTHE is friggin' awesome as the Colonel, basically every badass action-movie mentor figure rolled into one. But he's Powers Boothe, so he's totally badass even as his natural awesomeness makes his lines that much more hilarious. Ryan Philipe does a pretty decent job playing the straight man to MacGruber's wacky antics. And a pack of WWE wrestlers put in some very funny cameos in the early part of the movie, with Chris Jericho in particular getting in a couple of great lines (no surprise there - Jericho's always had a knack for comedy). Kristin Wiig sells her lines well as always, as MacGruber's faithful companion Vicki St. Elmo. And Maya Rudolph shows up as the ghost of MacGruber's wife, which leads to one of the movie's funniest and most out-there scenes. As for Will Forte, he's really good in this. He's a guy who's had his ups and downs on SNL, but MacGruber plays directly to Forte's strengths as a comedian - playing crazy, loony characters who don't quite realize the extent of their own absurdity.

Once in a while, certain jokes fall flat, and some of the repetition of certain recurring gags can become a bit much after a while. But, a lot of MacGruber works, and in the end, it's a seriously entertaining comedy. It's stupid fun, but you've got to appreciate a movie that so lovingly parodies the genre its spoofing. Possible comedy cult classic? Definitely potential.

My Grade: B+

Next up: a review of PRINCE OF PERSIA!

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