MacGruber TV Review

Plot: After rotting in prison for over a decade, America’s ultimate hero and uber patriot MacGruber is finally released. His mission: to take down a mysterious villain from his past—Brigadier Commander Enos Queeth. With the entire world in the crosshairs, MacGruber must race against time to defeat the forces of evil — only to find that evil may be lurking within.

Review: Adaptations of Saturday Night Live sketches are almost always a bad idea. For every Wayne’s World, there are dozens of awful and unfunny movies that stretch a five-minute joke into a two-hour bore. When MacGruber became a movie back in 2010, I dismissed it without a second thought, assuming it was another waste of film. When I finally gave the movie a chance, I found it to be an insane homage to not only MacGyver but all of the hardcore action movies I loved from the 1980s. Brutally violent and profane, MacGruber was the Anchorman of action comedies. Now, a decade later, we finally get the sequel we always wanted in this eight-episode Peacock series. Just as cinematic and somehow even more violent than the movie, MacGruber is a blast from start to finish.

Picking up with a musical summary performed by Maya Rudolph, MacGruber is set at Christmas as General Barrett Fasoose (Laurence Fishburne) enlists MacGruber (Will Forte) for a suicide mission. MacGruber is in prison, serving time for the murder of Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) in the feature film. MacGruber has a personal connection to the criminals, led by Brigadier General Enos Queeth (Billy Zane). Enlisting his ex-wife Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe), MacGruber devotes himself to stopping Queeth, the man who killed his mother. Like the trailers, all of this is delivered with deep gravitas and seriousness despite the ridiculous one-liners spouted by MacGruber and the sheer ridiculousness of the plot.

Set over eight half-hour episodes, MacGruber does not shift to episodic storytelling like MacGyver but sticks with a serial narrative. Essentially, this is a four-hour MacGruber movie. That means there is a lot of room for wasted jokes or gags that last a little too long, but director Jorma Taccone knows how to mine the movies that inspired this series. While you can find elements of classic Schwarzenegger and Stallone in the plot and Forte’s performance, the visuals are closer to the work of John Woo. This series looks so much better than it has any right to and the special effects are superior to many feature-length action flicks. This MacGruber relies on a lot of throat-ripping, scatological humor, and profanity than even the movie. There is even a high likelihood that this series may hold some record for f-bombs.

Will Forte has managed to turn in quite the career in recent years. Since the MacGruber movie, Forte created and headlined the underrated The Last Man on Earth and gave a wonderful performance in Netflix’s series Sweet Tooth. While MacGruber is far from the type of series you would mention when talking about quality acting, it is surprisingly well performed by all involved. Forte knows when to push his role into silly while still making the character likable. Wiig is a perfect balance to that whacky and Ryan Phillippe plays his role as straight as you can with such hilarious scene mates. Both Laurence Fishburne and Billy Zane, like Val Kilmer in the movie, are talented actors who never play down to the material but instead seem like they could be pulled from any serious action film. The level of acting here is far above what the material would dictate and that serves to make this even funnier.

There are a lot of surprises to be had in the series version of MacGruber, both in regards to callbacks to the feature film but also new twists and reveals. I won’t spoil any of them for you here, but there are familiar faces from the movie that return as well as the inclusion of the great Sam Elliott as Perry, a significant person in MacGruber’s life. I am very surprised at how quickly these episodes move with the comedy never becoming stupid but just plain fun. I love the performances from all involved including the multiple musical sequences and sex scenes. I never thought that nudity could be so funny. You will not be able to unsee what you see in this film, both in terms of skin as well as brutal death blows.

Like the feature film, MacGruber works because of an over-the-top appreciation for the series that inspired it. Maintaining the cinematic quality of the 2010 film, this sequel works even better thanks to the episodic format that makes this feel like an extended film rather than a television series. The new cast is fantastic, the action surprisingly well-executed, and the comedic moments sure to become as quotable as the movie. Just in time for the holidays, get ready for a throat-ripping good time with what will hopefully be the first of many seasons of MacGruber.

MacGruber premieres all eight episodes on December 16th on Peacock.




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About the Author

5914 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.