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99 Problems

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

At 99 minutes, MacGruber, the big-screen adaptation of the semi-popular Saturday Night Live skit, is by any estimation, 95 minutes too long. Skits, on average, run about 3 and minutes long and that’s about as much truly funny material you can expect to find in MacGruber.

This film is another disappointing entry from longtime SNL producer Lorne Michaels, Will Forte — who stars as the title character and co-wrote the script — writer John Solomon, and writer-director Jorma Taccone.

From the first scene on, it’s obvious that Forte and his collaborators are incapable of delivering on the action-parody premise. Three minutes into the film, a post-prime, paycheck-slumming Val Kilmer appears as the villain, the ponytail-sporting Dieter Von Cunth, confirming the worst. MacGruber descends into a morass of crude humor, excessive profanity, nudit, and ultra-violence.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. After Von Cunth steals a nuclear warhead from some ill-equipped Russians, MacGruber’s old boss, Col. James Faith (Powers Boothe), shows up at the monastery where MacGruber has spent the last decade, mourning the loss of his fiancée, Casey (Maya Rudolph), at the hands of Von Cunth. Faith wants MacGruber to get a team together, find the weapon before Von Cunth obtains the launch codes, and if necessary, terminate Von Cunth. The scene practically follows the opening scene from Rambo III beat to beat, with two undernourished jokes to remind us we’re watching a comedy.

After MacGruber loses his entire team in an unfortunate incident, he’s forced to regroup with Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe), an inexperienced officer eager to become MacGruber’s apprentice and MacGruber’s Casey’s best friend and fellow operative, Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig). From there, the over-confident, IQ-challenged, ever-clueless MacGruber pratfalls his way into saving the United States (and maybe the world) from Von Cunth’s vaguely nefarious plan.

In between the team forming and the climactic battle to the near-death, we’re treated to a plethora of misguided, ill-executed jokes, each one more desperate and unfunny than the last with, at best, one or two exceptions. A repeated gag involves Vicki getting into unconvincing disguises, being quickly discovered, and then fleeing for her life.

And really that’s all you or anyone has to look forward to seeing if you decide to transfer your hard-earned cash into the studio’s coffers. For critics, the signs were already there. The studio that produced MacGruber, Relatively Media, pushed back the press screening from Tuesday to late Thursday night — just before the film opened to the public. If Relativity Media lost faith in MacGruber, then why should we give it the benefit of the doubt?