Lost action hero

SNL bombs with latest skit-to-screen experiment

Rated 2.0

After all these years, producer Lorne Michaels is still bundling popular sketch characters from Saturday Night Live and lobbing them out into the multiplexes to see if they have the legs of a franchise. At least I assume they’re popular. Like a lot of folks, I haven’t watched the show in years. With MacGruber, he and his crew take Will Forte’s parody of the old TV show MacGyver (he who built weapons out of paperclips and chewing-gum wrappers) and pad it out as a send-up of ’80s action movies. Unfortunately, with MacGruber, there’s too much flop-sweat jibber-jabber and not enough action.

The plot is typical action fodder: a villain (Val Kilmer doing an evil Steven Seagal) steals a nuclear warhead and sets about blowing up Washington, D.C. It’s up to the obliviously inept MacGruber (Forte) to stop him, and his crew to stop MacGruber from making things worse.

I wouldn’t recommend the thing to anyone, but I do sorta feel sorry for the movie. It plays out like footnotes to what (it seemed) they wanted to do, but with a restricted budget. For that, I think they did, well, OK. As such, it nails the ’80s vibe but neglects to deliver with enough gags to justify a full-length comedy.

The problem being that the genre it’s sending up is already a cartoon. How do you pull off satirizing camp? Most action-hero flicks of the era were already parodies of themselves. For example, the action hero in Stone Cold infiltrated a biker gang to stop some plan to knock off judges, and by the end of the flick the dumb ass (ol’ Brian Bosworth) has been such a bonehead that everyone on his team is dead, along with the entire ’Bama state supreme court. How do you top that?