Legendary special agent MacGruber (Forte) must come out of retirement to stop Dieter Von Cunth (Kilmer), the evil mastermind responsible for the theft of a nuclear warhead and the death of MacGruber’s wife (Maya Rudolph). Singer/love interest Vicki St. Elmo (Wiig) and the young-but-skilled Lt. Dixon Piper (Phillippe) join in a surprisingly funny spoof of over-the-top 80’s action movies.
Since MacGruber is based on a series of 30-second sketches on SNL, I was justifiably concerned coming into this movie. I’ve been burned in the past (Night at the Roxbury, anyone?). By framing this movie as a parody of cheesy, ’80s action flicks, the writers give themselves a lot more material and flexibility. All of the cliches are covered: the hero can take a bullet without noticing, but winces in pain as he’s nursed back to health by the love interest; henchmen with automatic weapons are always bested by one man with a pistol; the love scenes are gauzy, candle-lit and are backed by saxophones; etc. Speaking of the love scenes, they have to be the most hilariously awful I have ever seen. The jokes are hit-and-miss in places, but the pacing is brisk and never dwells in one place for too long. The sheer number of “wow, they actually went there” moments makes it at least worth a matinee. Not a bad debut for director Taccone.