Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Familiar to American audiences from the sketch show Saturday Night Live, MacGruber is an all-Eighties hero in the mold of ever-resourceful secret agent MacGyver, who spends his segments on the comedy show attempting to defuse various elaborate bombs before getting sidetracked at a crucial moment and blown up.

Fortunately for British viewers, no prior knowledge of him is necessarily as, wisely, writers Will Forte, Jorma Taccone and John Solomon have fleshed out the character's back story considerably here to incorporate plenty of other All-American 'hero' attributes from the Eighties. There's a distinct whiff of Miami Vice, a suggestion of Knight Rider and more than a nod to the A-Team in this story which sees MacGruber given a decent love interest and an impressive adversary in the (astoundingly rotund) shape of Val Kilmer's Dieter Von Cunth. As that name suggests, there is quite a lot of humour here that recalls the "nice beaver" moment from The Naked Gun - "It's time to go pound some Cunth" - but there is enough wit and charm employed to ensure that low brow still brings laughs and keep it one notch above the lowest common denominator.

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Most importantly there is a genuine story - MacGruber is out to avenge the death of his wife at the hands of Von Cunth and save the world, getting a girl along the way - and a clear love of the period being parodied. So many recent 'spoofs' have lazily taken sideswipes at anything - if not everything - they thought would be incredibly easy to parody, not caring whether it fit in with the story in question or had any relevance. I'm thinking of the catalogue of crud stretching from Scary Movie's many sequels through to Dance Flick and Year One. The end results have felt, at best, like a series of hit-and-miss sketches strung end to end and, at worse, like the fourth circle of humourless hell.

Here, though, plotting is afoot, so that the spirit of the Eighties is embraced and royally sent up rather than the writers taking the easy route of simply dragging a scene from the past and recreating it from a more scatalogical perspective. There are knowing winks towards the likes of Ghost, Top Gun and their ilk, but there is enough creativity at work to ensure it's not simply a case of slapping a few jokes onto a carbon copy.

Saturday Night Live regulars Will Forte and Kirsten Wiig put in two of the best comic turns caught on film this year, deliciously deadpan as MacGruber and the girl who has held a candle for him all these years, Vicki St Elmo, with Ryan Phillipe and Val Kilmer also proving adept at playing it straight for laughs. Meanwhile the technical departments deliver in spades - by keeping the production values as high as they were in the films being parodied, the humour shines all the more brightly.

There may not be quite so many jokes per second as there were in the Zucker brothers' early films and the crudeness of some of the humour may alienate your Auntie Ethel, but there are more than enough consistently funny sight and scripted gags to draw laughter for the entire runtime and restore your faith in movie parody. The spirit of Frank Drebin lives on.

Reviewed on: 18 May 2010
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Eighties spoof sees hapless bomb expert take on an old nemesis.
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Director: Jorma Taccone

Writer: Will Forte, John Solomon, Jorma Taccone

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillippe, Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Powers Boothe, Dalip Singh, Rhys Coiro, Chris Jericho, Glenn Jacobs, Paul Wight, Antonio Banks, Andy Mackenzie, Mark Henry, Timothy V. Murphy

Year: 2010

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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