When you heard they were making a MacGruber movie, did you think, “How in the hell will they make a movie out of that? The guy dies in every episode!” Um, spoiler alert, in case you haven’t seen the Saturday Night Live sketches this character is based on… But really, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t know that, because the sketches will still be funny, and obviously the movie can’t employ that same gag, right?
According film co-writer John Solomon, when SNL god Lorne Michaels approached the writers about a MacGruber movie, “The first question in our brains was ‘How would you do that?'”
Without giving too much away, I’ll say that the film focuses on the other things about MacGruber that make us laugh before his weekly demise. Just like a similar mulleted action hero who was big in the ’80s, MacGruber gets out of harrowing situations by constructing gadgets out of random junk instead of using actual weapons. He’s not exactly worthy of hero-worship, since he’s widely known as a potty-mouthed, narcissistic, racist homophobe. Parents, do not take you children to see this movie, unless they already toddle around repeating the F-bomb and humping things. In that case, the film has nothing left to teach them, and also, your kid may be hilarious.
So to be clear, the film is structured completely differently than a MacGruber sketch, in which MacGruber’s team is generally stuck in one location in the face of imminent death. In the film, MacGruber (Will Forte) must come out of retirement in order to save the country from nuclear peril at the hands of… wait for it… Dieter von Cunth, played by a wickedly funny Val Kilmer. Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillipe are on hand as MacGruber’s oft-unwilling team members.
But just because this is a feature, that doesn’t mean there won’t be those familiar elements that keep you coming back for more on SNL (if you still do). The writers have been tickled that people seem to clearly identify the theme music or Wiig yelling “Three minutes, MacGruber!” Solomon grinned as he told me, “When we’ve screened it, the crazy thing is hearing people actually react to [familiar elements] and get so excited. It’s so fun that people recognize that part of it.”
And there’s an extra-special love scene for all of you fans of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Having been subjected to that film by a co-worker, I instantly recognized the set-up, but I double-checked with Solomon to make sure I wasn’t making a false connection. “Oh yeah,” he confirmed. They were definitely paying a loving homage.
If you laugh your ass off at the movie like the packed house I was in did, you shouldn’t necessarily worry that this is the end of MacGruber on the small screen. Solomon said, “We’ll do [the sketches] as long as we have a good idea to do them. We weren’t planning on stopping, it’s just always making sure that we like the idea of it.”
I wonder if the next sketch will involve paparazzi chasing MacGruber now that he’s a movie star. Guess we’ll have to (DVR the show and fast-forward through the boring stuff until we get to a MacGruber sketch and) tune in!