MacGruber (Forte) has been presumed dead for 10 years after the villainous Dieter (Kilmer) blew up his wedding, including his bride (Rudolph). But now Dieter has a Russian nuke aimed at Washington, and only MacGruber can stop him.
Recruited by a colonel (Booth), MacGruber bumbles through the operation, rescued frequently by his former colleague and current love interest Vicki (Wiig) and bright-spark sidekick Piper (Philippe). But time is running out for an '80s-style hero struggling to adapt to the 21st century.
If only the filmmakers had developed that premise. The only '80s references are the soft-rock song score and MacGruber's mullet. Sure, the filmmakers deploy action movie cliches with deadpan glee, but they forget to add either punchlines or payoffs, letting the actors hang out to dry waiting for laughter that will only come at late-night screenings at which most of the audience is too drunk to realise that there's nothing clever here and too stupid to know that they should be offended by the sexism and homophobia.
The cast members all play it exactly right; Forte is the film's clown, going for broke in every scene. He's only watchable because Philippe and Wiig manage to keep straight faces through it all. Sometimes, their actions and reactions are funny in ways that Forte's broad, hyperbolic vulgarity isn't. Meanwhile, the director keeps things bold and muscly, indulging in rather a lot of grisly violence along with the over-the-top sex gags.
There's promise in the script's absurd tone and willingness to wallow in its blatant crudeness, but the writers never add any invention or wit. The funniest moments are throwaway bits, while the plot continually abandons even its own wobbly logic for cheap, weak jokes. For example, MacGruber's refusal to use a gun while relying on MacGyver-style improvisation is simply thrown away when the scriptwriters can't figure out where to go with it. And yet, that could have offered some genuine humour, if they'd only bothered.
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st May 2010
Box Office USA: $8.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $6.1M
Distributed by: Universal/Rogue Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Fresh: 62 Rotten: 70
IMDB: 5.4 / 10
Director: Jorma Taccone
Producer: John Goldwyn, Lorne Michaels
Starring: Will Forte as MacGruber, Kristen Wiig as Vicki St. Elmo, Val Kilmer as Dieter Von Cunth, Ryan Phillippe as Lt. Dixon Piper, Maya Rudolph as Casey, Powers Boothe as Col. James Faith, Rhys Coiro as The Russian