By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures
The South by Southwest film festival featured an early screening of the MacGruber movie. It was still a work in progress but I hope they get to leave everything in. I could not believe the stuff I was seeing in this movie. I missed jokes while laughing at more jokes.
It’s gleefully irreverent with the action movie staples: The movie epic version o the theme song, suiting up, the expository statements about how dangerous the bad guys are, badass car music, rounding up the team, one liners, the surveillance earwig, the Billy Jack calling of shots, the self-operating medical procedures… It’s even self-referential about self-referential humor.
Just when it’s getting stupid, it gets really edgy and dirty. You just won’t believe where it goes, and that’s comedy. It plays abortion jokes with total sincerity. The villain’s name is blatantly dirty too but that actually pays homage to vintage comedy. A certain classic had Lili Von Shtupp.
It looks like all the real action movie clichés: the desert weapons deal, the Rambo-esque peaceful seclusion where they meet MacGruber, the window-lit entrances and love scenes. It’s definitely ‘80s style, not ‘90s Michael Bay or newfangled shaky cam.
There’s less of his improvised weapons. It’s more just crazy sh** which is the funniest crazy sh** we’ve seen since Austin Powers. He does screw up like he always does in the sketch, but it’s woven into a complete story. The fact that one of his improv’s is an elaborate setup to cause a minor nuisance is the essence of MacGruber’s humor.
I laughed my ass off at MacGruber. It’s funnier than Wayne’s World and the best Saturday Night Live movie since The Blues Brothers. It’s great that it’s R-rated and really pushes the limits of even that. I hope they get away with it all by the Memorial Day release.