By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — When a screenwriter resorts to making abortion the subject of a joke, Catholic viewers at least can be certain he has hit the comic skids. And so it proves with director and co-writer Jorma Taccone’s "MacGruber" (Rogue), the consistently vulgar, intermittently gruesome expansion of a recurring "Saturday Night Live" skit that Taccone penned with Will Forte and John Solomon.
Forte plays the title character, an ever-cocky, frequently decorated but disastrously incompetent special agent in the vein of the "Pink Panther" franchise’s Inspector Clouseau.
Ten years before the action begins, MacGruber — reacting to the brutal murder of his wife by his nemesis, evil arms dealer Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) — faked his own death to retire to a life of contemplation. Thus, some of the opening scenes show MacGruber living in an American Indian village in the Southwest, meditating or perhaps praying in the community’s Catholic-looking chapel and dressed in a Franciscan-like brown robe.
However, when Von Cunth — the obscene wordplay on whose name typifies the low humor on display in this tasteless action spoof — gets hold of a nuclear missile and plots to launch it on Washington during the State of the Union address, MacGruber answers the summons of his former commander, Army Col. Faith (Powers Boothe), and returns to action. He’s eventually aided in his mission by Faith’s subordinate, Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe), and by an old friend, undercover operative-turned-pop-singer Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig).
MacGruber’s juvenile antics include distracting Von Cunth’s thugs by wedging a celery stalk between his bare buttocks and waving it at them. The audience also is subjected to crude scenes portraying MacGruber’s supposedly comic sexual encounters, and to the bloody results of his favorite combat technique: ripping open his adversaries’ throats.
Theirs are not the only gorges adversely affected.
The film contains much gory violence, graphic premarital sexual activity, upper female and rear nudity, frequent sexual and scatological humor, more than a dozen uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
– – –
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.