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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

‘MacGruber’: it’s the bomb

I find it wonderfully ironic, and just plain wonderful, that the asinine MacGruber — about the guy who can never stop a bomb from going off in his his face — bombed at the box office this weekend. (Maybe it’s not the end of civilization after all!) Estimates put it in sixth place, with takings of $4.1 million, and while it’s not inconceivable that when the actual numbers come in, it could overtake Just Wright at No. 5 (estimate: $4.23 million), I suspect MacGruber will see its earnings drop to under $4 million.

Nothing will change, however, the fact that this is the worst debut ever for a Saturday Night Live film in wide release, and the worst debut for any film released in more than 2,000 theaters so far in 2010.

Now I’m counting down the moments until Universal execs come out and explain that the reason the movie flopped is because its intended audience of teenaged boys was kept away from the film because of its pesky R rating.
This is where MacGruber gets sociologically interesting, if in a thoroughly depressing way, as yet another indication of Hollywood’s almost total irrelevance to anyone with an IQ in the triple digits or a mental age above 12, and of the sad ironies of America’s cultural decline. MacGruber is considered an “adult” movie — that R is for “strong crude and sexual content, violence, language and some nudity” (Will Forte thought it would get slapped with an NC-17!) — and yet it can only truly be appreciated on its own level by the sexually and intellectually stunted, or by those who haven’t actually grown into adult sexuality and intellect: i.e., 12 year olds. Or if you deliberately dumb yourself down to that level (though I fail to appreciate why anyone would want to relive being 12 again). Even its adherents admit that the movie juvenile… and this is meant to be its great selling point.

One of the commenters to my review of the movie suggested that MacGruber is “a niche market movie.” But alas, it is exactly opposite that. As I noted in response:

Niche movies open on four screens in arthouses in big cities. This, on the other hand, is a mainstream movie opening on thousands of screens, expected to draw a mainstream audience and make millions of dollars in its first weekend alone.

Indeed, most predictions pegged MacGruber for an opening in the mid teens.

I’m trying to take it as a positive sign that the film bombed. I don’t expect, however, that this brand of humor will disappear anytime soon. It is, alas, usually much more popular than this.

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  • Funwithheadlines

    “MacGruber, by the look of that calendar this movie is about to bomb!”

  • Perhaps the movie is condemning the “teen” culture by satirizing it?
    Can’t say yes, or no, have not seen it yet, just playing devil’s advocate.

  • Dave

    While this type of comedy is most certainly not dead but I think it is at least on the downturn. With the way the last batch of _____ Movie movie’s have been going they are getting smaller and smaller box offices (at least I think that’s what I remember can’t be bothered to do the research). They’ll cycle down for 5-6 years and then they’ll start back up again usually with the first couple actually being somewhat well done and the quality quickly falling from there.

  • MaryAnn

    Actuals are in, and *MacGruber* didn’t drop below $4 million — $4,043,495 — but it’s half a mill less than the estimate. Doh.

  • Exulting in the box office failure of a movie you disliked is pretty juvenile, MaryAnn. There’s your real irony.

  • JasonT

    Actually I will watch it anyway. That said, I would never pay theatre prices for it. I suspect that this is the case for a lot of people who occasionally find moronic humor amusing.

  • I think I’m gonna sneak over during the early afternoon and see it for $4 at the local non-stadium theater… what I find most interesting is the love it/hate it thing I see going on. MacGruber has a solid 50/50 at RottenTomatoes, which is kinda interesting, right?

    Best to see for myself, I guess!

  • RogerBW

    Reviews elsewhere suggest that this might well have made a PG-13 if it hadn’t been deliberately punched up to R with lots of swearing and a flash of elderly breast. The assumption seems to be that the studio felt an R-rating would attract more viewers.

    (Still, this is slightly better than the reverse – the PG-13 “horror” film, which loses by its restraint the only elements that _might_ have made it worth watching.)

  • MaryAnn

    Exulting in the box office failure of a movie you disliked is pretty juvenile, MaryAnn. There’s your real irony.

    It’s not merely that I dislike *MacGruber.* I take no pleasure, for instance, in the apparent box office failure that *Robin Hood* is turning out to be, even though I dislike that movie and believe that, in its own way, it’s far bigger failure than *MacGruber.*

    But I’m glad to see that Hollywood was unable to sell this pile of juvenalia to audiences. That is, I think, worth celebrating.

    If I’m juvenile for being glad that juvenile crap may be no longer of interest to mainstream American audiences, so be it.

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