What started as a Saturday Night Live sketch first appearing back in January 2007, MacGruber hit the big screen in 2010 to mixed reviews and a particularly bad showing at the box office. Will Forte plays the title character MacGruber, a special operations agent, a parody of the popular 80s adventure MacGyver. Forte is also joined by fellow SNL regular Kirsten Wiig as his assistant, Vicki St Elmo. MacGruber, much like his parodied influence, makes use of everyday household objects in an attempt to diffuse bombs. The original SNL skit was just a recurring scene in which MacGruber and his assistant were trapped in a control room with a ticking time bomb. MacGruber would proceed to ask for random everyday objects in an attempt to stop the bomb and save everyone. But MacGruber would repeatedly get sidetracked by irrelevant issues and the bomb was never diffused, ending each sketch by an explosion and presumably killing everyone.
This premise ran for several years before a full length feature film version was announced. Considering the very basic premise of the show would be difficult to translate into a motion picture, Forte and creator Jorma Taccone had to come up with an idea that would work as a film. Choosing to stay with satirising 80s action shoe MacGyver, they decided to extend it to cover all action movie tropes of that era. With only a budget of $10million, the film was released in May 2010 to dismal box office takings, making only $9.3million, still short of their relatively low budget. The film fared only slightly better with critics, where it has earned just 47% on film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
The film version involved Forte and Wiig reprising their roles as MacGruber and St Elmo respectively. This time they are joined by Ryan Phillippe as Dixon Piper, a young lieutenant who is assigned to MacGruber;s team, much to his disdain. MacGruber is forced out of retirement and is tasked to retrieve a nuclear warhead from his old nemesis Dieter Von Cunth, played by Val Kilmer. The film, although a hit with fans of the show, became the 2nd worst film in terms of box office takings of 2010, behind the forgettable The Warrior’s Way, starring Geoffrey Rush and Kate Bosworth. In fact, the film became the lowest-grossing wide releasing SNL film ever, behind the likes of Wayne’s World and Blues Brothers, both of which were box office successes as well as cementing themselves as cult favourite status. But as with many similar films, MacGruber slowly grew a cult following and its popularity is one that continues to grow. So much so that a sequel has been confirmed by the original’s director and creator, Taccone, who announced the news last year and Forte has been quoted as saying shooting might have already been wrapped up.
In the meantime, MacGruber is available to stream online through Netflix.