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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that MacGruber is an action/comedy based on a series of Saturday Night Live sketches. During the transition to the big screen, the creators have added tons of foul language (everything from "f--k" to plays on the word "c--t"), extreme violence (including blood splatter and throats ripped out by hand) played for laughs, and sexual behavior that include some nude male bottoms and some graphic sexual noises. The movie also includes a good deal of gay humor, such as a brief kissing scene between two men played for laughs, and a couple scenes where MacGruber graphically propositions other men as a misguided bargaining tool. It's one of those movies whose goal is to make the audience laugh through increasing levels of shock, rather than actual jokes.
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What's the story?
The villainous businessman Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) steals a nuclear warhead and plans to fire it at Washington DC. The Pentagon contacts the one man who can stop him, the decorated veteran soldier MacGruber (Will Forte), who wears a mullet and relies on reckless gut instinct rather than careful planning. Along with his teammates Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe), he charges into one situation after another, trying to snatch the secret codes for the warhead, and then to find the warhead itself. Will he be too late? And worse, will Vicki make MacGruber forget about his vow of celibacy?
Is it any good?
This movie isn't smart enough or focused enough to qualify as a parody. On Saturday Night Live, MacGruber usually gets less than two minutes to diffuse a bomb, but is distracted at the last second, and everyone is blown to smithereens. Despite the repetitive formula, those sketches amuse with their attempt to parody action movies and TV shows from 1980s and 1990s (especially MacGyver, who also relied on everyday objects instead of guns). The MACGRUBER movie, instead, just tries to keep the audience constantly off-balance with increasing amounts of shock humor, including some over-the-top violence, and two cringe-worthy sex scenes.
Depending on your sense of humor, MacGruber is either vaguely interesting as the movie tries to top itself with gross-out violence and sexual humor, or full of laugh-out-loud crude jokes. Also, MacGruber is a supremely self-centered character, and with so much attention paid to his antics, talented supporters Kilmer, Wiig and Phillippe are more or less relegated to the sidelines. Director Jorma Taccone occasionally passes the time with some cheesy (and nostalgically funny) 1980s power pop. Teens won't get all the references to the '80s, but they'll still find MacGruber's dorky character oddly appealling and the crude humor endlessly delightful (and, perhaps unfortunately for parents, all too quotable).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence. Was it necessary? Did it make you laugh, or did you feel squeamish? How did the humorous nature of the movie temper the violence?
How did the movie's sex scenes and sexual references affect you? Did they make you uncomfortable? Did they make you laugh? Why?
Is the movie a parody? If so, what was it parodying? What makes a good (and bad) parody?