SXSW 2010: ‘MacGruber’ wows them in Austin


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At the MacGruber premiere at SXSW Monday night, director Jorma Taccone noted that there was still some postproduction work to be done, “but it’s going to be good, you guys.’ The audience couldn’t have agreed more resoundingly.

It’s a minor miracle “MacGruber” even exists. A parody featuring a ‘MacGyver’-esque action hero who tries to defuse bombs with household items (and generally fails), the movie grew out of an unassuming ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit after said skit became an online sensation.


Writers Taccone (himself a veteran of the viral-video sensation Lonely Island), John Solomon and Will Forte were able to come up with a storyline from only the barest bit of source material. Not that it matters.

The film plays as a loving parody/homage to ‘80s action films, full of ridiculous montages -- love-making, getting ready to fight, etc. -- a soft-rock soundtrack and ironic sense of self-seriousness. There is something wonderfully daft about the film’s sense of randomness as it takes ridiculous lines of dialogue (mostly unprintable here) and builds them into outrageous running gags.

It’s not spoiling anything to say that things explode a lot, to the delight of the SXSW audience. When the final countdown began at the film’s climax -- with the skit’s signature line, ‘Three minutes, MacGruber!’ -- it brought down the house.

The story, to the extent that it matters, finds MacGruber (Will Forte) trying to stop his longtime nemesis (Val Kilmer) from launching a stolen nuclear missile at Washington. There is a lot of talk about getting codes, little of it of actual consequence.

Cast members Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe and Kilmer all came out for the screening. When taking the stage after the movie, Taccone asked if Kilmer was still there. Realizing the actor was not coming on stage, Taccone quoted a line from the movie: ‘Classic.’ (Prior to the screening, the director had noted of Phillippe, ‘I’m still very confused as to why he agreed to be in the movie.’) Taccone and Phillippe also both noted that the film was shot in only 28 days, a remarkably tight schedule for an action comedy.

One questioner asked what became of a rumored cameo from Richard Dean Anderson, of course the original MacGyver. There’s talk of a lawsuit from Lee Zlotoff, the original creator of ‘MacGyver,’ and Taccone said the original script did feature a scene for MacGruber’s father, but that it was cut.
‘And that’s all I’ll say about that,’ Taccone added. Classic.

--Mark Olsen