The general consensus when MacGruber that hit theaters in 2010 was that Will Forte had stretched a relatively fun concept (MacGyver but silly) that filled five minutes in Saturday night live to paper-thin proportions (“Why does this exist?” he asked Los New York Times). So inevitably the most logical next step was to rush it even further into an eight-part TV series for Peacock (December 16).
Sounds like the kind of wacky scheme devised by the titular narcissist himself. After all, it wasn’t just the critics who turned their backs on the action comedy. MacGruber it grossed just $ 9.3 million at the box office. That is less than other notable SNL failures One night at the Roxbury, The ladies man and even desecration of the legacy Blues Brothers 2000. Since then, there has not been a spin-off of the institution of the big screen comic.
However, over the next decade, his highly visible mix of Airplane-Music fans, absurd scenes, and literal throat-tearing action have deservedly developed a cult following (Christopher Nolan is a fan who He sent a message to the reading of the table of the first episode). And with the source material, well, the more youthful reboot, ending after five seasons earlier this year, you could argue that MacGruberThe return has been perfectly timed.
Fortunately for the many who did not witness all of the carnage above, there is a helpful musical summary provided by Maya Rudolph, briefly reprising her role as the ghost of MacGruber’s late wife. But once the James Bond-style credits roll in, we’re back to the present day where our stupid hero is serving a life sentence for pushing Val Kilmer’s Dieter Von Cunth off a cliff. And then shoot him with a grenade. And then urinate on his charred corpse.
This time around, it’s Billy Zane, almost topping his performance in Titanic, playing the villain hell-bent on causing mass destruction, and whose kidnapping of the president’s daughter gives MacGruber the opportunity to restore his patriotic reputation and play the role of the slaughtered lamb (“My country has invited me to die for it and I I replied to ‘Yass Queen’ ”).
Of course, with this being the nation’s least orthodox special agent and everyone, who can forget how he uses celery as a distraction technique? – MacGruber will not meekly surrender once the trade has been made. After learning that Zane’s brigade commander Enos Queeth is planning to kill billions with the deadly chemical known as sulfur, he manages to escape his underground lair and plan another deranged mission to save the world.
Fans of the original will be delighted to know that this also involves recruiting the old dream team of special agents; Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe), who now supports her young family as a driver’s education teacher, and Vicky Gloria St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig), who spends her afternoons performing silly songs with lazy rhymes (“And I went to the mall / with Lauren Bacall / and a Cabbage Patch Doll ”) in disinterested discos. You just have to make up for the small matter of betraying them and asking that the latter receive the death penalty.
Phillippe doesn’t have much to do but frown and wince at every wacky thing that comes out of MacGruber’s mouth, though his unflattering costumes provide two of the biggest climactic laughs. The brilliantly expressionless Wiig, however, often steals the show from her ex SNL Co-star, whether she is posing, amusingly and unconvincingly, as an award-winning Russian scientist or channeling the sluts of a Jackie Collins novel with her breathless innuendo.
Laurence Fishburne also proves to be a good athlete as Vicki’s recovering husband and MacGruber’s commanding officer, General Barrett Fasoose (this show rivals London toast for spectacularly goofy character names), while the other top new recruit, Sam Elliott, twirls that famous mustache like MacGruber’s mysterious father.
However, your enjoyment of MacGruber It will continue to depend heavily on your tolerance for your main character. Forte seemed to notice in The last man on earth that the overgrown male child schtick might wear out a bit over the course of an entire series. However, in any case, he doubles here all the childishness, and the jokes, in particular. A big suspense happens while MacGruber is in the bathroom and the big lightbulb moment is even based on that old playground adage: “who smelled it, gave it away.”
However, if unapologetic humor is your thing, this Christmas-themed comedy is a pre-Christmas gift. In fact, Forte and returning writers John Solomon and Jorma Taccone – the latter also doing double duty as a director – sure know how to be inventive with profanity. A hilarious showdown in episode six seems to contain more swearing than one The wire box set.
The switch to NBC’s streaming service hasn’t diluted the nudity and violence either. This could be even a bloodier watch, with numerous beheadings displayed in comically graphic detail – apprehensive viewers would be advised to look away during the forest fight scene where a minion’s head is crushed like a watermelon . No doubt to the disdain of Forte’s mother, there is also a callback to the scandalous sex scene that almost surpassed Team America: World Police‘s. In fact, MacGruber spends as much time in his birthday suit as he does in his familiar plaid shirt, body warmer, and Wrangler jeans.
Take all the value out of the shock, though, and you’ll still have plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. A botched lift of a motorcycle shows that Forte’s knack for physical comedy remains intact, and lines like “I hate that you’re leaving Russian but So-vi-et” show that few are so committed to the laborious pun. The story itself, meanwhile, takes enough ridiculous twists and turns to justify the jump in runtime.
MacGruber It will not convert anyone who did not understand, or did not appreciate, the joke the first time. But those who are once again “ready to be part of a heartbreaking story” are unlikely to be left questioning its existence.
Jon O’Brien (@ jonobrien81) is a freelance sports and entertainment writer from the North West of England. His work has been featured in companies such as Vulture, Esquire, Billboard, Paste, iD, and The Guardian.