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'MacGruber': 'SNL' skit runs amok (no stars)

Explaining the whereabouts of the mysterious MacGruber - Navy SEAL, Green Beret, Army Ranger, recipient of 16 Purple Hearts - Pentagon biggie Col. James Faith (Powers Boothe) tells Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) that, officially, "He's been dead for 10 years."

Well, that still makes him fresher than "Saturday Night Live." With "MacGruber," the venerable TV show belches up yet another screamingly unfunny big-screen version of a badly conceived skit, in this case one that the dubious Will Forte has been milking for more than three years.

"MacGruber's" inspiration - the gadgety secret-agent adventure series "MacGyver" - was on TV for only seven years; Forte has been on "SNL" for eight. Somebody ought to get a clue.

The most interesting thing about "MacGruber" - toilet jokes not really being very interesting or, in this case, funny - is not why "SNL" honcho Lorne Michaels and his co-producers du jour would keep turning out this drivel; clearly, the movies make money. But why would anyone pay for a ticket, given the show's track record?

"Wayne's World," after all, was nearly 20 years ago. Since then we've had the likes of "Superstar," "Stuart Saves His Family" and "It's Pat." And a raft of failed comedies with "SNL" stars.

Pitting the incompetent and quite unpleasant MacGruber against Val Kilmer's evil mastermind Dieter von Cunth, "MacGruber" has nowhere to go. There's nothing inherently funny about parodying "MacGyver" - Marge Simpson's sisters, Selma and Patty, got all the juice out of that years ago. Kristen Wiig is wasted as M's sidekick Vicki. And even if there was an actual joke in the film, the whole thing is utterly tone deaf:

Why, for instance, would you open an alleged comedy in a desert locale, with bodies of dead and wounded soldiers lying about, and being coldbloodedly murdered by bad guys stealing a nuclear warhead? The suggestion of Iraq/Afghanistan and improvised explosive devices is strong enough to eclipse any plot points. Throw in a bunch of gratuitously stomach-churning imagery, and an sophomoric streak of homophobia, and MacGruber isn't just unfunny, it's contemptible.

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