MacGruber (Blu-ray)

The ultimate tool.

Who is MacGruber? He is Will Forte, a pretty funny guy who came up with an amusing take-off on MacGyver for Saturday Night Live and turned it into a feature film. MacGruber is also the name of one of the country’s most decorated soldiers, a man who can make homemade bombs out of tennis balls and can rip the throats of any passerby he sees. His latest mission has him matched up with long-time nemesis Dieter VonCunth (Val Kilmer), an evil megalomaniac who plans to use a nuclear warhead for nefarious means. Backing Mac up is ace female agent Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig, Knocked Up) and straight-laced soldier-boy Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillipe, Breach). Male nudity and non-stop fellatio invitations ensue.

Oh, MacGruber, you heartless tempter. You draw me in with the promise of inspired action-flick-parody, laced with hard-R comic dialogue, lifted on the wings of sterling word-of-mouth and, instead, with the dull bang of an improvised explosive device constructed from chewing gum and grated cheese, you and your potential detonate in an unimpressive puff of smoke.

It’s not hard with comedies; they’re either funny or they aren’t. And while MacGruber sports a handful of solid laughs, on the whole, the jokes that work are outgunned by the ones that don’t. It’s possible I was going into this with too-high expectations. I got a kick out of the skit and heard pretty good things about the film when it made its theatrical run. I don’t think I was setting myself up for disappointment too much, but even if I was administering unfair standards to MacGruber the fact it didn’t get me rolling even though I was fully primed to do so, says something.

And what it says is: “Sorry, but I kind of suck.”

Forte is committed to doing what it takes to get you to laugh and there’s fertile ground to be cultivated in the action-hero-parody acreage, but his MacGruber, dim-witted as he is, just seems lost in a series of flat set-pieces. He’s dumb and is willing to stick celery up his butt and his hair is funny and he has sex with the memory of his dead wife in a cemetery — yet, MacGruber still seems like a one-dimensional guy from a skit, no matter how gross he is.

He is gross, too. MacGruber blasts out the toilet humor and profanity (though it’s not nearly as apocalyptic as some reviews made it out to be) and that’s where it looks to for the laughs. Which is fine, if there’s even a touch of wit to support the outrageousness, but as if frequently the case here, there isn’t. It’s pretty much MacGruber reeling off dick jokes. Alas…

Universal’s Blu-ray release is a strong technical performer, but a disappointment when it comes to the extras. The 2.40:1 transfer is high-quality, pushing the action clearly and vibrantly. The color work pops and the enhanced resolution provides uncomfortable detailing in some sequences (that involve celery). The DTS-HD Master Audio track can pound, though the center channel struck me as slight muted, meaning that a thunderous sound cue or explosion was set to exploit my volume finagling. Extras: a deleted scene, gag reel and cast and crew commentary track. The disc contains both the R-rated and Unrated versions, though the latter features only four minutes of additional footage.

Guilty. As a fan of both MacGyver, over-the-top action movies and the occasional SNL skit, I had medium-to-high hopes for MaGruber. The a-hole let me down.

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