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This week:

Filthy says:
"What happens when the parody doesn't parody."

When I'm at a loss on how to write something up, I remember the basic rules of journalism. I'm no journalist. Screw that. I'd rather be a poet or philosopher. At least they have the potential to earn a living. Still, if what I remember about journalism from Encyclopedia Brown is correct, each story must answer three basic questions: What the fuck? Who the fuck? Why the fuck?

What the fuck is MacGruber? It's the latest stream of tarry shit from the ass that is Saturday Night Live, a show with inestimable talent for taking dumps on comedy. The movie is based on a recurring sketch that's been deemed a classic not for funniness so much as because they keep on doing it. In general, Saturday Night Live is consistently unfunny and repetitive. Like meeting someone at a party who keeps telling the same bad joke hoping that eventually you'll laugh. The show wants to be hip and young, but really it's only watched by old people nostalgic for what they think it once was. Old people who believe they're still "with it", that is. So, the show and its audience are complicit in getting each other to think they're still cool. I imagine its audience sits at home alone on Saturday nights, drinking Lime Budweiser, with goatees and self-consciously wearing porkpie hats to cover their bald spots.

MacGruber reinforces the old, fake hipster notion because it's a parody of an easily-parodied show that went off the air nearly two decades ago. The old TV program was about a shaggy veteran who could use discarded objects to improvise all sorts of shit and catch bad guys. It might have made a decent one-off sketch in 1989, but Saturday Night Live has beaten it to a pulp over the years and now hauls its carcass up onto the big-screen, as worn out and weathered as a teen boy with a stash of Penthouse Forums and dirty socks.

Who the fuck is MacGruber? He's a character created by someone whose idea of clever is to name a MacGyver parody MacGruber. The lead character, played with artless bombast by Will Forte, is a former marine who, apparently, got through basic training and dozens of missions without ever learning to use a gun. Instead, he rips out enemies' throats and incompetently makes improvised weapons, like tennis ball bombs and homemade plastic explosives.

It's unfair to lump Forte into the ninth circle of hell of miserable former Saturday Night Live performers like Chris Kattan and Horatio Sanz. Let's put him in the eighth circle, alongside Anthony Michael Hall and Kenan Thompson. Forte is scared shitless of subtlety. So scared you won't know he's being funny that he pushes every gag past the good part and into flop sweat. You rarely laugh because he's funny; you sometimes laugh because you know it's the reaction he wants.

Forte's MacGruber is called out of retirement to kill Val Kilmer. Not really Val Kilmer, although we can wish. Kilmer plays a Mystic-Tanned bad guy with a vaguely German name that includes the word "Cunt." That cunt simplifies the writers' jobs. Rather than actually come up with gags, they just have people saying cunt. Hee hee.

The movie's main gag is that Forte's hero is incompetent. That's sort of like every hero in thriller parodies, such as the funnier Austin Powers and the way funnier Peter Sellers' Pink Panther movies. Hey, why not rent one of those? Forte accidentally blows up a truckload of compatriots. He announces to the world that he's still alive when his advantage was that everyone thought he was dead. I empathize with the world's wishful thinking. Forte is joined by Kristen Wiig, another Saturday Night Live performer, but one who is funny, can act and has done well in better movies. His other compatriot is Ryan Phillippe. Phillippe does a great job of reminding me why I don't look for movies with him in them. He is a bore.

Why the fuck is MacGruber? Man, that's a great philosophical question, up there with pondering the ideal relation between man and state and why anyone still buys porno mags. Part of the reason it exists is because Forte won't ever star in anything else. This is the only vehicle he'll ever drive to stardom, and he's gonna ride the hell out of this busted tricycle. The prime reason MacGruber exists is because there are a shitload of clueless, imagination-free grassfuckers in Hollywood clinging to any project that sounds like a safe bet, no matter how shitty. They don't realize Saturday Night Live is like Oklahoma in the 1930s if comedy were crops. It's a woman from Chernobyl's ovaries, if comedy were eggs. The show's been on forever, they figure, it must be doing something right. Assuming someone else is "doing something right" takes the responsibility to do that off the grassfuckers' shoulders.

MacGruber has about five or six genuinely amusing moments. Given their surroundings, though, those bits seem more like accidents than planned humor. This is especially true given that none of the running gags are funny.

The movie also exists to say "fuck" often enough to get an undeserved "R" rating. There is one brief bit of nudity, and that is of a septuagenarian's breasts. That isn't for titillation, just another cheap gag. MacGruber is probably proud of its "R" and the way it lures audiences into thinking this is raunchy and hard. What it really is, though, is a dreadful exercise in the artless misuse of dirty words. And any dumbass can do that.

MacGruber is monotonous. The movie operates on the fumes of running gags that, in most cases, weren't funny to begin with. One is Forte's repeated offers to "suck your dick", when he finds himself in a tight spot. This particular joke seems to be some screenwriter's best idea because they drive it into the ground early, and then keep it up. MacGruber has a removable car stereo, like people had in the 80s. He carries it everywhere. This is supposed to be funny, but as the movie wears on it feels more like an albatross than a joke.

The movie is shot like a dried-up turd. I can't think of a single scene that was visually interesting, but I can remember several examples of closeups being too close, composition sucking ass and action being static. It wants to make fun of big action movies, but it's not competent enough to do it.

MacGruber sucks. It sucks so hard that after reminiscing here it reminded me of another rule that supercedes the ones from journalism. That is, don't fucking bother. Two Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood

Sex and the City 2 is "Laugh-out-loud hilarious! Sex is even better the second time around!"

Filthy's Reading
Kingsley Amis - Lucky Jim

Listening to
The Hold Steady- Heaven is Whenever


The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman