There’s a growing groundswell of appreciation for this 2010 comedy based on an absurdly short Saturday Night Live sketch. It was met with some pretty cold reviews upon its initial release, resulting in many, including myself, deciding not to bother with another disappointing SNL movie. It has been so well received years later, however, that they’re now working on a sequel. The response that I saw to this was mostly positive, which is surprising considering the original movie’s rather dismal box office showing. It seems as though this is one of those odd examples of a comedy being far better received years later than when it first came out.
When you actually watch it, it’s hard to imagine why audiences and critics didn’t respond more positively to the movie. It was fairly divisive, to be fair. Some hailed it as the funniest movie of the year, but it wasn’t until recently that this became a more popular opinion. There are so many little details that complement the big comedic set pieces in MacGruber which facilitate plenty of laughs throughout: the villain being named “Cunth,” the cheesy credit opening, the presence of a bunch of WWE stars with one playing a gay dude, and Ryan Phillippe’s solidly earnest performance serving as just a few examples of this.
Then there’s the heart of the comedy, coming in the frequent juxtaposition between hyper-masculine action with consistently emasculating twists, most notably the sex scene in the graveyard. Describing it doesn’t do it justice. But it had me on the floor when I finally watched this movie about a year ago and left me wondering, what did audiences not like about this when it first came out?