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MacGruber: Silly Spoof of 80s Action Heroes
If MacGruber were a food, it would be
one of those new ice cream cones with a Kit-Kat finger in the middle.
Separately, both are high caloric and delicious desserts. Combined, the result is not
quite the sum of its sweet parts.
MacGruber is the same; it has Saturday Night Live funnymen combined with the already ridiculous tropes of muscle-action films. Theoretically, this is a recipe for non-stop laughter; in practice, it’s not quite that.
Forte plays the mullet-boasting action hero made famous by a series of sketches on SNL. On the hit show, the skits traditionally followed a rigid 30-second formula where MacGruber has to diffuse a ticking bomb before it goes off, only to waste these precious few seconds by making margaritas or something equally mundane. However, in the film, the character is less of a one-trick, bomb-diffusing pony, and more of a satiric take on self-assured 80s action heroes.
The film starts with MacGruber in seclusion. After losing his wife to a bomb planted by his nemesis, Dieter Van Cunth (Kilmer), MacGruber decides to leave his old life behind him and retreat to an Ecuadorian monastery. Dieter Van Cunth gets his hand on a nuclear missile and MacGruber gets called back for one last mission; a chance to finally avenge the death of his wife.
MacGruber takes on the job after resisting for a few scenes, and then he goes about assembling his macho team ( mostly consisting of ex-WWE wrestlers) while listening to tenuous 80s hits by the likes of Boston. It’s silly all the way through in quite a hilarious way; yet something is lacking. The film’s commitment to the action structure comes at the expense of the comedy.
There are little funny nods here and there, and these mostly sustain MacGruber, yet the film never gets as absurd as the 80s action films that it’s making fun of. There are a few set pieces where Forte’s straight-man routine pays off, and together with Kristen Wiig– herself the ice queen of the straight-man routine– provides a lot of silliness, which is perhaps the best that can be said about this film.
Some say that a film is as a good as its villain, and in this case, the villain is a deliciously played by Kilmer, who is the physical incarnation of pointless villainy. Not only is he willing to give his opponents a detailed outline of his plans before shooting them, he also shows them his paintings and has a cup of tea to catch up on lost time. Stupid, yes; but isn’t that the point?
She wakes up from her coma to a husband who she doesn’t remember and parents who are overjoyed that she’s forgotten about their dispute. While Paige’s parents try to bring her back to the way of life that she’d rebelled against, Leo tries to help her remember why she’d left all that behind in the first place. Fighting for a wife who doesn’t remember him and is a completely different person than the one he knew, Leo tries to get her to fall in love with him again.
The film rarely gets unbearably cheesy, setting it apart from your run of the mill Sparks adaptation. It gets mushy, emotional and sappy, but it’s more likely to make you smile than roll your eyes. Leo’s pain and heartbreak combined with Paige’s family’s delight at having their daughter back, gives the film a level of grit that keeps it from becoming overly cloying. However, the secret of the film’s success is the leads, who have great chemistry and manage to pass off some of the cheesiness as bearable.
While some may argue that originality is dead, no genre is more vulnerable to that notion than comedy, which has always been prevalent in Egyptian Ramadan TV. One only has to look to polarising TV personality and prankster, Ramez Galal.
Appearing for the fifth consecutive time on TV screens during Ramadan, Galal’s latest shenanigans present nothing new – in fact, one could argue that this year’s show, Ramez Wakel El Gaw, is one of the poorest yet; even the opening credits have come to be uniform. A grand orchestral intro makes way for nonsense music with nonsense lyrics. Galal – who lends his vocals to the opening credits – begins each episode in the same way, weaving in some banter at the expense of the celebrity that he’s about to prank.
The concept of the show is that each unsuspecting victim is summoned to a mystery business meeting in Dubai via plane. The prank? It's simple: convince the celebrity in question that the plane is experiencing engine failure and that they are about to die? Tasteless? Maybe. Unfunny? Almost certainly. Galal and co also pepper the celebrity’s ride with smaller, more infantile mini-pranks – serving strange-tasting coffee and spewing unpleasant odours in the plane.
As mentioned, the main prank itself is significantly weaker and cruder than that in previous series. In addition, episodes are shorter, while the show misses the opportunity in making the most of their guests – a sit-down and interview would give the show much more value, for examples. In fairness, however, the disguises and make-up that Galal uses during the pranks isn’t half-bad and there’s a certain guilty pleasure in seeing what he’ll look like in the next episode.
As always, the pay off in a show like this is how the celebrity responds to the revelation of the prank and this series has thus far seen some pretty angry and over-the-top reactions, with one particular episode featuring former belly-dancing star and actress, Lucy, requiring an inordinate amount of bleeping. Galal was even the victim of a pretty firm kicking at the hands of another unimpressed guest.
Galal shows have always received criticism, but viewing figures have always proven the popularity of them; like him or loathe him, people are always talking about him. This year, though, despite Paris Hilton featuring in an upcoming episode, there isn’t as much buzz; this is partly because of the emergence of other Ramadan prank shows, but could Egypt finally be tiring of his antics? Only time will tell.