MacGruber, the first big-screen comedy based on a "Saturday Night Live" skit to be released in a decade, hits theaters this weekend. A parody of the 1980s TV show "MacGyver," the film has so far received middling reviews, perhaps because, after a spotty record, the mere idea of an "SNL movie" is more likely to trigger stressful memories of flops like A Night at the Roxbury and Undercover Brother instead of The Blues Brothers. Should Lorne Michaels' cast just stick to TV? (See trailer below)
MacGruber transcends its small screen origins: Turning a 90-second SNL skit into a 90-minute feature has produced some "excruciating" films, admits Peter Travers at Rolling Stone. But MacGruber arguably "breaks the jinx" by positioning the skit within "the context of a 1980s action movie" and letting the character live. Busting out of the constraints of network TV, the movie creates "its own brand of explosive lunacy."
MacGruber is cruder than SNL, without being better: It's true that the movie's R-rated "shenanigans" — from f-bombs to graphic violence — ensure that MacGruber "doesn't feel like a SNL sketch stretched to feature length," says Steve Persall at the St. Petersburg Times, but that's about all it has going for it. "The nicest thing to say about MacGruber is that it's the best Saturday Night Live movie in a decade."
"Review: Sorry, SNL fans, but MacGruber is a bomb just waiting to go off"
TV sketches are inherently...sketchy: It's obvious why so few SNL spin-offs click, says Tom Charity at CNN. "A two-minute sketch demands the kind of shorthand that resists translation to the sustained dramatic requirements of a feature-length film." You always end up with "two or three stand-out sequences" with long "mediocre patches in between." As suspected, MacGruber is no exception.
"MacGruber: Another SNL big-screen misfire"