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Film: MacGruber

MACGRUBER! Making life-saving inventions out of household materials!
MACGRUBER! Getting in-and-out of ultra-sticky situations!
MACGRUBER! The guy's a freaking genius! MACGRUBER!

MacGruber is an Affectionate Parody of MacGyver originating on Saturday Night Live, in one of the better segments that have shown up in the years since the departure of Tina Fey as head writer. The title character, MacGruber (played by Will Forte), is (supposedly) a Special Ops agent versed in the most deadly forms of everything, the most infamous being his ability (or inability) to deactivate deadly explosives. This makes him somewhat of an Idiot Hero, who is ironically lauded for his expertise and viewed as a skillful agent, yet his bumbling goes unnoticed by some, including himself. Most sketches involve him being locked in a room (pretty much the exact same room each time) with some sort of explosive, his female assistant (originally Casey, played by Maya Rudolph; later Vicki, played by Kristen Wiig), and a strange assortment of tools and items. He happens to be able to use them to deactivate the bomb, but something personal always comes up to distract him before he can.

There is usually a third person in the about-to-explode room, making the sketches rather more interesting. Richard Dean Anderson himself was once said third person; apparently, MacGyver is MacGruber's dad. Hm.

Anyway, the sketch was sufficiently successful that it got its own theatrical-release movie, with Val Kilmer as the villain and Ryan Phillipe as his Hypercompetent Sidekick. Quality wise, it ranks below Wayne's World and Blues Brothers, but above Coneheads or Its Pat.

General tropes:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of MacGyver and Rambo. It's clear Forte knows and loves these characters, even as he mercilessly deconstructs them.
  • Brick Joke / Real Life Writes the Plot: An odd case of this occurs. When Maya Rudolph left SNL, Casey's disappearance was left unexplained...until the movie, at which point we learn what happened to her.
  • Does Not Like Guns: MacGruber. Unlike MacGyver, it's because he doesn't know how to use them.
  • Idiot Hero
  • Informed Ability: MacGruber's status as a deadly badass who can get out of any jam. Played for laughs.
    • One sketch series had MacGruber find out that everyone secretly thought he was incompetent, causing him to become needy and touchy-feely. And, of course, even worse at his job.
    • Taken to the extreme in The Movie where MacGruber is apparently a highly-decorated soldier who had accumulated numerous medals of honour during his years in service - despite not even understanding how to use a gun.
  • MacGyvering: But of course.
  • Only One Name: The trailer for the movie even references this.
    Narrator: He's so top secret, we don't even know his first name.
    • Even his wedding vows in the movie refer to him simply as "MacGruber", as does a tombstone with his name on it.
    • The sketches with Richard Dean Anderson suggest MacGruber is his first name and that his full name is MacGruber MacGyver.
  • Parody Names
  • Potty Failure: After a shootout Vicki says, "I peed my jeans. I peed 'em."
  • Small Name, Big Ego
  • Time Bomb

Tropes used in the SNL sketch:

  • Couch Gag: The final shot of the intros for each sketch differs, and tends to fit the context of Mac's current predicament (In one sketch series, we see MacGruber giving a thumbs up to the camera, proud of being sober for fifteen years, then drinking a beer, and then finally, drunkedly walking past the camera.)
    • The intro song also changes this way, starting pretty close to the page quote and drifting for each skit.
  • Cure Your Gays: MacGruber tried to do this with his son, played by guest host Shia LaBeouf.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Will Forte (the actor who plays MacGruber) sings the theme.
  • Incest Is Relative: When Betty White guest hosted and appeared as MacGruber's grandmother, who liked to tell embarrassing stories about him, he made peace with her in the last sketch. It seemed like a typical heartwarming speech, telling her what a wonderful person she was, but then things took an alarming turn with the line, "Too bad you can't marry your grandmother. Or can you?"
  • Every Episode Ending: The location exploding, accompanied by a shout of "MacGruber!", with the same superimposed over the shot of the explosion.
    • In the second of the Pepsi sketches, the "MacGruber" shout and title are replaced with "Pepsuber."
    • In the sketches featuring MacGyver, the flashbacks to when MacGruber was a baby end with a "MacGyver" shout and title.
  • Jitter Cam: Used in the sketches, but not The Movie.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard
  • Magic Countdown: MacGruber nearly always has "twenty seconds" to disarm the bomb, but the sketch runs a good deal longer.
  • Only Sane Man: In some of the latter sketches, Vicki is the only character to not seemingly forget that there's a, you know, bomb about to go off. Sometimes, the second companion, usually played by the guest host, will join her in begging him to remember the bomb.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: "I just log into the website, put in my password, 'MacGruber'. Do not tell anyone, you guys, I'm serious."
  • Please Keep Your Hat On: When MacGruber was worried about aging, he wore a bandana over his head and it turned out he was bald underneath it. (He has a full head of hair in every other appearance, of course.)
  • Product Placement / Enforced Plug: Severely lampshaded in a MacGruber skit-cum-Pepsi ad from 2009's Super Bowl. In the first one, Mac is unable to defuse the bomb because he's too busy talking about or drinking a Pepsi, and announces he's legally changed his name to "Pepsuber." A later one (broadcast during an SNL commercial break) has changed the opening theme song, replacing most of the lyrics—and all of MacGruber's dialogue during the sketch—with a repetition of "Pepsi" (which oddly enough still works as an Ear Worm).
    MACGRUBER! Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi!
    MACGRUBER! Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi!
    MACGRUBER! Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi!
    MACGRUBERRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!! (PEPSI!!!)
  • Recycled Set: Every sketch takes place on the same set, meant to be the "control room" of various places, with absolutely no effort made to disguise this. A Running Gag is that such a control room does not even make sense for some of the settings, such as a monastery.
  • Sensitivity Training: MacGruber has to go to this when he makes a racist joke.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Sometimes, the intro details how MacGruber is screwing up his personal life this week. Thus, the narrator will be describing what a loser MacGruber is while backed by macho music with shouts of "MacGruber!" The actual sketch has tense, adventure music playing on a loop which usually continues when MacGruber becomes sidetracked by some petty issue.
  • Stock Footage: The intro and the exterior of the location. Some of the intro footage is lifted from MacGyver itself.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Vicki replacing Casey when Maya Rudolph left the show. Vicki, therefore, gets to be in The Movie, where her last name (St. Elmo) is given for the first time.
  • They Killed Kenny: Each sketch ends with the bomb going off and presumably killing everyone. Then they appear unharmed in the next segment only to be killed again. Oddly, the continuity of what was happening before the bomb went off is continued into the next segment.

Tropes used in The Movie:

MACGRUBER! They made a fucking movie!

  • Actor Allusion: Why else would Val Kilmer's character come back from the dead with the left side of his face scarred?
  • Adaptation Expansion
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: MacGruber eventually has to get down on his knees and tearfully beg him to join his team. He even offers to suck Piper's dick and allow him to fuck him, all while sobbing.
    • Just tell me what you want me to fuuuuuuuuuck.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At the beginning of the movie, when meeting Mac, Piper gives a rundown of our hero's many, many impressive achievements, and ends with "...and starting tight end for the University of Texas, El Paso."
  • A-Team Firing: MacGruber has atrocious aim, shoots excessively and can't even keep his eyes open while firing. Just as someone who has never used a gun would react if in a firefight.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Most of Mac's team of American heroes; Tanker Lutz, Brick Hughes, and Vernon Freedom stand out in particular.
  • Avengers Assemble
  • Badass Crew/The Cameo: Comprised of Chris Jericho, Mark Henry, Montel Vontavious Porter, The Great Khali, and Kane.
  • Brick Joke: When crashing Cunth's party, MacGruber briefly excuses himself to take an "upper-decker" (defecating in the water tank of a toilet, rather than the bowl). Later, during the climax, Cunth says "By the way, thanks for the upper-decker you left in my toiler."
    • MacGruber repeatedly threatens to rip off Cunth's dick, and shove it in his mouth. He finally gets the chance to say "Hey Cunth... suck your own dick!" Unfortunately, Cunth's genitals were burned off while escaping the explosion. MacGruber is crushed that he lost his opportunity for ultimate revenge.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Done literally to escape some thugs; MacGruber uses Piper as a human shield, and they both survive as Piper was wearing bullet proof vest, but MacGruber didn't know that.
  • Cluster F-Bomb
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Mac goes to recruit Vicki for his team, a photo in Vicki's house shows both Vicki and Casey in their costumes from the SNL sketches.
    • The climactic scene where MacGruber is attempting to disarm the missile is staged just like one of the skits, right down to the background music.
  • Cool Car: MacGruber's red Mazda Miata.
  • Country Matters: The villain is named "von Cunth". It kind of sets the tone for the whole movie.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: von Cunth makes it very clear to his men that however idiotic Mac might seem, he's not to be underestimated under any circumstances. After all, he won all those medals fighting in conflicts all over the world without ever using a gun, and stopped an assassination plot on Jimmy Carter.
  • Daddy's Little Villain/Put on a Bus: In one scene, von Cunth is playing a poker game with a beautiful femme fatale and MacGruber asks if they are screwing; it turns out this is von Cunth's daughter. Oddly, other than standing around in another scene about a minute later, she is never seen again.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: The ads like to run a quote praising this film for being the best SNL movie since Wayne's World. That is not saying a lot.
  • Death by Cameo
  • Disproportionate Retribution: After visiting his dead wife's grave, MacGruber finds the car of the guy who laughed at him in Vegas. He smashes its windows and sets it ablaze.
    • Also Diether von Cunth, whose hatred for MacGruber all started because MacGruber stole his girlfriend... while she was pregnant with Cunth's child... which MacGruber convinced her to abort without telling Cunth. You know what? Screw "disproportionate", MacGruber's a Jerk Ass.
  • Does Not Understand Sarcasm: MacGruber, twice when mocked by Cunth. The second time, Cunth actually becomes exasperated at his stupidity.
  • Double Entendre: "Time to pound some Cunth."
  • Fan Disservice: Equal-opportunity!
  • Finishing Move / Signature Move: MacGruber's Mortal Kombat-esque throat ripping ability.
  • Freudian Slip:
    MacGruber: If rippin' throats gets that warhead back, I'll suck as many dicks as I got...uh...rip as many throats as I have to.
  • Fun with Subtitles / Gratuitous Spanish:
    MacGruber: You're loco, man!
    Subtitles: You're crazy, man!
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: MacGruber's team that he assembles and subsequently blows up! are all played by WWE wrestlers. MacGruber, the character, even guest hosted WWE Raw to promote the movie.
  • How Did You Know? I Didn't:
    Piper: "How did you know I was wearing a bulletproof vest?!"
    MacGruber: "You were wearing a bulletproof vest? Awesome!"
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: MacGruber tries to catch Cunth with one of these after the stolen nuclear warhead is brought up. "I never said it was a nuclear warhead". Cunth's response? "Oh that's right, because most warheads are filled with air."
  • Informed Ability: Averted. Lieutenant Piper thinks MacGruber's penchant for throat rips is a load of hot air...until Mac rips a throat right in front of him during their attack on Cunth's headquarters.
    • Possibly played straight with MacGruber's various military honours in the beginning of the film. We never see how Mac earned such achievements at all.
  • Insult Backfire: MacGruber compliments the attractive woman present at Cunth's poker game. Then tells her to have fun getting date raped by Cunth. The woman turns out to be Cunth's daughter.
  • Ironic Echo: "The game has changed!" "But the players are the same!" - Spoken respectively as MacGruber refusing Colonel Faith asking him to help locate the X-5 and bring down Cunth, and then as MacGruber begging to be kept on the case after he blows up his team.
  • Jerk Ass: Despite being a highly-decorated soldier, MacGruber is an asshole, who's not above destroying the car of someone who laughed at him, and using Lt. Piper as a human shield.
    • He's a pretty big jerk in the SNL sketch as well, which has at various times portrayed him as petty, racist, alcoholic, vain, homophobic, and possibly sexist.
  • Life or Limb Decision: How Dieter flees the destruction of his headquarters to attack MacGruber one last time.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Spoofed, as he arms himself with floss, thumbtacks, and bottle caps. And celery.
  • Only Sane Man: Amongst the three lead characters, Piper is by far the most competent and level-headed.
  • Reality Ensues: Mac learns the hard way that C4 isn't something You store unsafely in Your trunk and setting up an elaborate trap and taunting Your villain aren't great ideas in a time sensitive espionage mission.
  • Rearrange the Song: The MacGruber theme song is redone as a film epic version, complete with orchestral choir in lieu of the rock 'n roll macho singing from the skits. And Mac gets to show off his saxophone skills, too.
  • Left the Background Music On: Played with a couple of times. Both times involved MacGruber not liking the music playing the on car radio and changing stations to something lame.
  • Stunned Silence: Piper, when MacGruber explains his and Cunth's history and showing in no uncertain terms that Cunth has every reason to want to seek his revenge.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: MacGruber's final revenge on Dieter von Cunth involves throwing him over a cliff, shooting him as he falls, launching a grenade into his corpse, pissing on his corpse, and later taking a dump on his body bag.
  • Unflinching Walk: Grubes does this after destroying the "KFBR392" car, but is interrupted by the owner of said car.
    Car owner: Hey, what the fuck?
    MacGruber: Fuck you, asshole!
    *MacGruber runs to his car*
  • Unstoppable Rage: Grubes goes into this right as Cunth cuts off his trademark mullet and verbally mocks him.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
  • Viewers Are Morons: Played for Laughs, see Fun with Subtitles above.
  • Villain Opening Scene: Played very, self-consciously straight in contrast with the rest of the movie.

    MACGRUBER!
    [Explosion]

The Loved OnesFilms of the 2010sA Marine Story

alternative title(s): Mac Gruber
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