I was sitting there watching MacGruber and the thing which struck me was that I couldn't remember the last time I'd been in a movie and heard people laughing so loud. I mean, really, laughing so loud that I couldn't hear what was happening on the screen. Actually, now that I think about it, I can remember the last time that happened; I was in Greece and everyone around me was reading the subtitles so they didn't particularly care what the soundtrack was doing and they'd talk over it, laugh over it and generally drown it out. I remember having to read the one really funny joke in Young Guns off the screen in my own elementary-school-for-the-impaired Greek because the subtitles were slightly out of sync with the dialogue and everyone in the cinema read the line before Emilio Estevez delivered it. Yes, those were the days. I can't imagine that anything's changed, mind you.
Anyhow, there were people laughing louder than the soundtrack to a Fox TV celebration of Bill Clinton's simplest mistakes, and it hit me that the reason that I was conscious of the sheer loudness of it all was that I wasn't joining in.
So first piece of news about MacGruber; not actually all that funny. Of course, coming off the back of the one two downer punch of Brooklyn's Finest and Black Death, I was still appreciating the fact that at least it wasn't making me want to cut myself, but really, I'd somehow wanted a little more than that.
MacGruber's got one stand out funny line (from the ever dependable Val Kilmer, who looks these days like a fat version of the current fat model of John Travolta, an idea even more disturbing in the execution than in the description) and one incredibly reckless setpiece gag that made me join in the laughter; since it's the best thing in the movie, it's a shame that it happens so early and it would be even more of a shame to give the game away, but you'll never look at a team-building montage the same way again. Sadly, the rest of the movie doesn't have that much daring, and most of the rest of it is a succession of crude dumb gags that - I think - are supposed to be funny because they're crude. As if, somehow, being crude on purpose is somehow edgy and cool enough to be funny in its own right? I have seen it pulled off; Team America World Police just about gets away with it. MacGruber doesn't really.
Mind you, that might just be me. I really liked MacGyver, like all right thinking nerds should, and one of the things I liked about him was that he was essentially good natured and competent. I could live with the idea of a parody who was incompetent, but MacGruber's also a dick, and it all seemed somehow too meanspirited.
As it happened, I'd spent my breakfast watching an episode of a dumb new Matt Nix TV show called the Good Guys. The Good Guys has opened up to rather "meh" reviews, which concentrate on its slight confusion over whether it's a cop show or a parody of a cop show, and which also touch on the rather obvious budget limitations it's having to overcome. In fact, any of the three episodes of the Good Guys I've watched so far had more gags and more convincing action sequences in its 40 odd minutes than the whole of MacGruber. The sad truth is that there wasn't a whole movie in the concept.