SNL Movies: Back By No Popular Demand Whatsoever

Back in March, I (and others) wondered in print (well, cyber-print) why there hadn’t been any Saturday Night Live spinoff movies in years. The best explanation, from a commenter, was that Will Ferrell movies are SNL movies in all but name — films about an over-the-top, single-joke parody character given some kind of narrative arc — and so actual SNL adaptations would be redundant. But it turns out that Lorne hasn’t given up, and he’s got a director and cast for a movie version of one of the few new sketches that’s really famous. Which, as it turns out, will be a movie based on a sketch based on a TV show that also has a movie in the works. Yes, these things do tend to make one’s brain hurt.

“MacGruber,” the recurring “Saturday Night Live” skit that parodies “MacGyver,” is one step closer to going before cameras as a big-screen movie.

Ryan Phillippe is in negotiations to star in the feature, with Val Kilmer in negotiations to also join the Relativity Media production. Will Forte and Kristen Wiig are reprising their roles from the skits.

Jorma Taccone, who created the character and directed most of the skits, is helming; “SNL” producer and creator Lorne Michaels is producing.

The script is by Forte, Taccone and John Solomon, who wrote the SNL sketches. The proposed plot of the film is your typical SNL movie plot: essentially the same plot as any normal action movie, comedy, or action-comedy, complete with a traditional character arc (MacGruber is called out of retirement, buddy team-up, this time it’s personal), the only difference being that the lead character is a catchphrase-spouting idiot. These films, like Will Ferrell’s films, are sort of like genre parodies, but they’re really not: they tend to take the story conventions at face value, and they want us to cheer for the hero to win just as in a traditional movie; the writers are using those conventions to make the sketch work as a feature. If you take an SNL movie, particularly (but not only) the bad ones and replace the main character with one who looks and acts more normal, you would have a very typical Hollywood movie. (One reason Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story bombed was that it actually gave us a main character who wasn’t all that silly or weird — not Will Ferrell, in other words — and tried to get its humour from actually parodying the genre. That’s too deadpan for the Will Ferrell or SNL type of film.)

Now, if they actually blew up MacGruber and ended the film after one minute, that would be something. Otherwise, I have a feeling a MacGyver movie would be funnier.