The Review: For some reason, it feels like there’s been a long tradition of Saturday Night Live movies that have been successful. Now, there have been a lot of SNL alumni who have had long and profitable movie careers, but in terms of success, the only two sketches to become movies that really made any money or had any longevity were The Blues Brothers and Wayne’s World. Movies such as Coneheads, A Night At The Roxbury and The Ladies Man all did little business and had a poor critical reception, taking ideas and stretching them far too far for audiences to engage with them.
I’d be willing to wager that about as many people remember MacGyver from its references in The Simpsons (Patty and Selma’s favourite show, don’t forget) than from actually watching MacGyver, as anyone under 30 will probably struggle to remember MacGyver from the first time round anyway. I’m over 30 and I do remember it, and the hook of the show was a strong one – in case you don’t remember, MacGyver made useful things of whatever he found around him, usually just odd scraps and bits of rubbish.
Which is a useful metaphor for the movie in question. There’s a whole host of problems here, not least that the whole thing is so devoid of humour early on you actually wonder if you’ve wandered into a serious drama by mistake. References to other 80s and 90s movies or series just serve to underline how much better they all were. Not only that, but there’s an awful lot of set-ups (including the name of Val Kilmer’s bad guy) that you feel yourself waiting for the killer punchline or fantastic payoff on, and it never comes. The pacing is lethargic, most of the movie is badly staged and Will Forte, for the most part, manages to make MacGruber just the wrong side of unpleasant and offensive enough to be largely uninteresting.
However, this movie is based on a comedy sketch, and there are just a few moments within the movie (including a testing coffee shop infiltration and MacGruber acting on his romantic feelings) that range from smile-raising to laugh out loud funny. It’s just a question of how many people will have lost interest before those points, as what you’re getting is extraordinarily mixed in quality, and will just make you pine for the real MacGyver – surely even he could have made something much better than this?
Why see it at the cinema: There’s at most about 15 minutes of top class material here, wrapped up in an hour and a half of utter bilge. Let the buyer beware.
The Score: 4/10