Even today the sight of a mullet and a body warmer are enough to get some men of a certain age welling up as they think back to Saturday evening TV and the man who made The A-Team look like a shower of blowtorch dependent gurriers, MacGyver. Some tears may also fall watching 'MacGruber' but hopefully for very different reasons: it's a merciless spoof of 1980s tough guys which, unlike its chiselled-jaw inspiration, always aims below the belt.
Living a hermit's life in Ecuador, former Navy Seal, Army Ranger and Green Beret MacGruber (Forte) is called out of retirement when a longtime adversary (Kilmer) gets his hands on a Russian nuclear warhead. After putting his old team back together MacGruber manages to accidentally kill five of them before they've even been briefed on the mission. Left with just a rookie lieutenant (Phillippe) and the last surviving comrade (Wiig) from his glory days - now a singer-songwriter - MacGruber sets out to save the world. If only the powers that be had the intelligence to realise he's actually the greatest threat to it.
Like 'The Blues Brothers' and 'Wayne's World' before him, Forte's MacGruber started out as a sketch on US comedy show 'Saturday Night Live'. Now given 88 minutes as opposed to three, he doesn't fare as well as his predecessors, but if you're in the mood for slapstick, stupidity and a sex scene featuring Mr Mister's 'Broken Wings' then this is the film for you. Just try not to watch the trailer, because a lot of the best bits are in it.
There was enough ammunition to make 'MacGruber' as good as 'The Hangover', but Forte and the other scriptwriters fail to get the most out of his talent and Kilmer's because of a lack of strong gags involving both of them and a stop-start dynamic. If you've seen 'Top Secret' you'll know that Kilmer has form for doing this kind of nonsense very well; sadly he's limited to just a few scenes here - and none involve a pantomime cow.
A flop at the US box office, 'MacGruber' will, however, enjoy a lengthy afterlife on DVD among people who will find the name of Kilmer's character funny no matter how many times they hear it. And while there's as much room for a sequel as there is in MacGruber's jeans, we're going to see Forte in bigger and better - trousers and movies.