It's not unusual for a film to be held from critics until the last minute -- generally a 7:30 p.m. screening the night before opening -- but in the case of MacGruber (*1/2 out of four), its studio elected to hold it until the last second, which in this case translated into a 9 p.m. screening the night before opening. The studio's vote of no-confidence in its own product was so pronounced that I'm surprised they didn't give away company stock options with every popcorn purchase.
After sitting through the picture, however, the studio's embarrassment is understandable. Based on the Saturday Night Live skit that was itself a spoof of the hit action series MacGyver, this largely laughless affair finds Will Forte reprising his role as America's top special operative, here asked to save the country from the machinations of his archenemy, Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer). "I'm going to pound Cunth!" MacGruber declares, just one of the countless times that scripters Forte, Jorma Taccone (who also directed) and John Solomon attempt to wring humor out of this oh-so-naughty name.
The first half is especially dreadful, with the filmmakers connecting with so few guffaws that moviegoers will eventually be struck with the realization that Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire contained more belly laughs. The finale, in which MacGruber and his team -- longtime friend Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and hotshot military officer Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) -- infiltrate Cunth's headquarters, picks up the pace somewhat, but not enough to really matter.
There are admittedly some scattered chuckles (the solitary subtitle is priceless), but too much dead air and inconsistencies in the main character reduce this to just another piece of junk for the SNL scrap heap.