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Cinema Signal: There's always an audience for what most would call solid waste. It is a very young audience.

Live From New York:
An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests
by James A. Miller, Tom Shales
(Discounted Paperback from Amazon)
. "Macgruber"

There are three kinds of jokes: funny, pathetic and those that make you sorry you laughed. Macgruber contains all three. Groan.

First off, I knew MacGyver. And Macgruber ain't even close.

But, then, he's only supposed to be a parody on that subject. The first five minutes of it are promising. It's mostly down in the dirt from there.

The young woman sitting next to me in the theatre (a complete stranger) kept repeating, at every punchline or visual joke, "Oh, my god." Well, I don't know who it is she worships, but a film like this will give him plenty to do for people in this audience. I mean, gutter jokes with trash talk saturated with neurotic sexual references comes of as not only pathetic, but seriously, seriously desperate.

The real problem with s__t like this is that a career on "Saturday Night Live" gives some inane and morally handicapped people far too much credit for creating humor out of skit material. Like director Jorma Taccone; like writer John Solomon; like writer and lead actor Will Forte.

The premise? Oh, yeah, that. Well, special operative MacG (Forte) has been thought dead as a result of his extreme wartime heroics but, really, he's just been hiding out in a remote place where he's in comfortable retirement. Since his fiance was killed by a bomb before wedding vows were uttered, he's out of the game.

His old leader Col. James Faith (Powers Boothe), however, knows exactly where to find his go-to man when the need is felt. Well, it is, now that their old archenemy (MacG's high school competitor and likely bomber) Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) has again reared up with ugly intentions by obtaining a nuclear warhead. He's got to be stopped before he can use it in his plan to flatten Washington, DC!

MacG accepts the detail with the proviso that he puts together his own team of toughies which, by way of incineration, becomes Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) whom he despises, and Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) who adores him and lives for his every tactical and strategic whim.

I began looking at my watch around 40-minutes in. What kept me in my seat to the end had little to do with the film, which is as predictable as rain in Seattle. I could only write this review if I stayed. Consider it a sacrifice.

The one positive thing I took away from this scatological hysteria was a better understanding of why Kristen Wiig has become so hot these days. She was okay in "Whip It" and forgettable in "Adventureland." But, this is a better role, and her comely modesty and fine build does add up to considerable attractiveness. Besides, comic timing as shown on her SNL appearances, among other things, secure her a berth with this crowd of alumni.

Ryan Phillippe holds up his end with solid forbearance. Kilmer phones it in nicely. Boothe doesn't have to dig very far to play his role as the military pawn in charge.

The cast's appearance on "WWF Raw Is War" might also explain the appearance in cameo roles of five WWE wrestlers (MacG's original "team").

Did you like "Bruno?" Are you a regular viewer of SNL? Do you laugh at every reference to someone's bathroom issues or accidental release of internal waste? If so, you're who they made this for and for whom it's worth the 10-plus bucks for the privilege. Everyone else? Well, don't say I didn't warn y'all.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
Off Base
I've seen the movie and disagree with the review
Site rating: 4

The author of this article seems to think that this movie was made for complete idiots, but he's way off base. The movie is predictable in the sense that the character cliches are readily recognizable and obvious, but that is the basic presumption of slapstick comedies. It's all the little touches (like MacG's obsession with his car stereo, taste in music, and his bare hands approach to killing) that make this movie wittier and funnier than it's given credit in the review. The author is correct that MacGyver is the basis of the parody, but unless your 30+ years old you're only going to be familiar with the popular cliches, not the remote series.

In my opinion, it was a well-cast and consistent slap-stick comedy. It was fun to watch, and the "skit" humor makes the acting and script particularly endearing (as opposed to the author's view). However, I can see how an intelligent, law abiding, moral catholic could find this movie in the gutter. And for those of us who can't throw the first stone... well, don't say I didn't warn y'all--it's pretty funny.

Go watch it, laugh, and forget about it.

                                                           ~~ Daniel 

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Kristen Wiig, Will Forte and Ryan Phillippe
SNL alumni in a feature length skit.

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