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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jorma Taccone
Cast:
Will Forte, Ryan Phillippe, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Powers Boothe, Maya Rudolph
Writing Credits:
Will Forte, John Solomon, Jorma Taccone

Tagline:
The Ultimate Tool.

Synopsis:
Only one operative has been awarded 16 purple hearts, and only one guy is man enough to still sport a mullet.

In the 10 years since his fianc'e was killed, special op MacGruber has sworn off a life of fighting crime with his bare hands. But when he learns his country needs him to find a nuclear warhead that's been stolen by his sworn enemy, Dieter VonCunth (Val Kilmer), MacGruber teams up with his trusty sidekick (Kristen Wiig) and an uptight lieutenant (Ryan Phillippe) to get the job done. The trio sets out on a rampage of utter destruction in this action comedy that's so over-the-top, it "makes The Hangover look like Beaches" (Joblo.com)!

Box Office:
Budget
$10 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.043 million on 2551 screens.
Domestic Gross
$8.460 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime:
Theatrical Cut: 90 min.
Unrated Cut: 95 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 9/7/2010

Bonus:
• Both Theatrical and Unrated Versions of the Film
• Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Jorma Taccone, Co-Writer/Actor Will Forte and Co-Writer John Solomon
• Deleted Scene
• Gag Reel


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


MacGruber [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 5, 2010)

After the success of 1992’s Wayne’s World, studios released a string of films that spun-off characters from Saturday Night Live. Virtually all of them tanked; heck, even Wayne’s World 2 failed to find much of an audience.

The whole SNL spin-off idea went dormant for a while, but it attempted to make a comeback with 2010’s MacGruber. It failed – and it failed massively. Though positioned with a good summer release date, the movie flopped at the box office and couldn’t even recoup its minor $10 million budget; it wound up with a crummy $8 million total in the US.

Will this condemn future SNL-related flicks? Probably not – if they come in with similarly low budgets, they present low risk/high reward potential. The failure of MacGruber certainly puts a dent in any prospective releases, however.

A spoof of the old MacGyver series, we meet the title character (Will Forte), a former military operative whose skills made him a virtual superman. 10 years ago, mega-villain Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) killed his fiancée (Maya Rudolph), and MacGruber went into retirement.

In the present day, Von Cunth steals a nuclear warhead, so Col. James Faith (Powers Boothe) brings MacGruber out of retirement to deal with the thread. The bumbling hero accidentally blows up his elite team, so he ends up with a mini-squad: himself, raw recruit Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) and old pal Vicki St. Elmo (Kirsten Wiig). The trio attempt to deal with Von Cunth’s threat – and stay alive through all of MacGruber’s cluelessness.

Which is the big joke, of course. The flick presents a decorated hero who clearly possesses few skills and subpar intelligence. It’s not a particularly original conceit, but Forte helps make it work.

To a degree, at least. MacGruber suffers from two main problems. For one, it comes with a bit of a “been there, done that” issue. Spoofs of over the top action films are nothing new, and at times, this one comes across like a reworking of Team America. There isn’t a whole lot on display here that seems to be especially original.

In addition, how do you spoof something as silly as MacGyver? To be honest, MacGruber doesn’t spend much time with MacGyver allusions. Yeah, those title characters share visual similarities and a few background details, but that’s about it. MacGruber rarely exploits the primary gimmick of MacGyver: the main character’s ability to create useful items out of ordinary materials. We see a couple of improvised creations from MacGruber, but the film really doesn’t take advantage of that theme, which seems strange. Why parody MacGyver and ignore the series’ signature element?

Despite these basic flaws, MacGruber provides decent entertainment – a surprising amount of entertainment, in fact. I admit I didn’t expect much from the film, and I probably shouldn’t like it. The flick relies awfully heavily on cheap gags, with an emphasis on scatological elements.

Those don’t tend to do much for me, but I think MacGruber manages a reasonable amount of amusement. The cast probably deserves most of the credit, with Forte at the forefront. He’s absolutely willing to do anything for a laugh, and he clearly likes to show up bare butt. Most of those scenes aren’t particularly good – I especially could live without the excessively long ones that involve sex – but I admire Forte’s fearlessness. The Celery Trick is absurd but funny.

The others support him well. The expanding Kilmer needs to step back from the buffet table, but he handles the comedy well. Heck, he’s even willing to briefly spoof his turn in Real Genius; I never thought I’d see that on the screen.

It’s fairly hard to specify what makes MacGyver entertaining, as an exploration of the film will just make me question my own opinion; on the surface, the flick should flop. Nonetheless, it presents a fair amount of amusement and turns into one of the more satisfying SNL spin-offs.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

MacGruber appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. While not a poor transfer, the image seemed a bit lackluster.

Sharpness was a mild concern. Though most of the flick came across as reasonably concise and accurate, occasional bouts of softness materialized. These weren’t major, but they created period distractions. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and neither artifacts nor edge haloes appeared. Source flaws also remained absent.

In terms of colors, MacGruber went with a standard modern action film palette. That meant a dry amber tint much of the time, though other stylized tones occasionally appeared, such as when the flick went to Vegas. The hues looked appropriate throughout the movie; they never seemed great, but they were fine. Blacks appeared dark and tight, while shadows showed nice delineation. Though much of the movie appeared fine, it seemed too soft for a new release, and that knocked it down to a “B-“.

On the other hand, I maintained no complaints about the fine DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. With all the flick’s action sequences, it offered plenty of opportunities for lively material. Those worked well, as they opened up the room and used the various channels to good advantage. While the track wasn’t quite as active as a straight action flick would be, it still bolstered the material nicely and created a broad, engaging soundscape when appropriate.

No issues with audio quality materialized. Speech was natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music appeared lively and full, and effects came across well. Those elements were clear and dynamic throughout the film. This ended up as a satisfying presentation.

A few extras fill out the set. We find both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film. The former lasts 1:30:16, while the latter 1:34:53. I only watched the longer cut, so I can’t delineate the differences, but I want to mention the presence of both.

Next we get an audio commentary from director/co-writer Jorma Taccone, co-writer/actor Will Forte and co-writer John Solomon. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, story/editing topics, sets and locations, effects, music, stunts, altered/cut scenes and a few other production areas.

Expect a commentary short on content. In an attempt to enliven the proceedings, Taccone turns the movie into a drinking game: he needs to swig some beer whenever anyone says a form of the title character’s name. This isn’t a winning concept, and it adds nothing to the piece.

The material discussed doesn’t do much for me either. We do learn a decent amount about changes and cuts made to the film, but mostly we just get jokes and praise. Piped in via phone, Solomon never connects with the others; he barely says anything, so he’s not much of a participant. Taccone and Forte don’t carry the track well on their own. It’s not a total loss, but it’s not particularly useful, either.

A Deleted Scene runs 44 seconds. It depicts a chat among MacGruber, Vicki and Piper after they get thrown off the case. It’s pretty forgettable and was a painless cut from the film.

Finally, we get a Gag Reel. The eight-minute, one-second compilation shows the expected goofs and giggles but it also tosses in some outtakes and unused lines. Those make it more satisfying than usual.

This may be faint praise, but the surprisingly amusing MacGruber provides one of the more enjoyable Saturday Night Live spin-offs. It’s too crass and too inconsistent, but a good cast helps give it life. The Blu-ray provides acceptable visuals, good audio, and a couple of supplements. While not a comedy classic, MacGruber delivers a crude but amusing flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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