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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

MacGruber

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

When a screenwriter resorts to making abortion the subject of a joke, Catholic viewers at least can be certain he has hit the comic skids. And so it proves with director and co-writer Jorma Taccone's "MacGruber" (Rogue), the consistently vulgar, intermittently gruesome expansion of a recurring "Saturday Night Live" skit that Taccone penned with Will Forte and John Solomon.

Forte plays the title character, an ever-cocky, frequently decorated but disastrously incompetent special agent in the vein of the "Pink Panther" franchise's Inspector Clouseau.

Ten years before the action begins, MacGruber—reacting to the brutal murder of his wife by his nemesis, evil arms dealer Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer)—faked his own death to retire to a life of contemplation. Thus, some of the opening scenes show MacGruber living in an American Indian village in the Southwest, meditating or perhaps praying in the community's Catholic-looking chapel and dressed in a Franciscan-like brown robe.

However, when Von Cunth—the obscene wordplay on whose name typifies the low humor on display in this tasteless action spoof—gets hold of a nuclear missile and plots to launch it on Washington during the State of the Union address, MacGruber answers the summons of his former commander, Army Col. Faith (Powers Boothe), and returns to action. He's eventually aided in his mission by Faith's subordinate, Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe), and by an old friend, undercover operative-turned-pop-singer Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig).

MacGruber's juvenile antics include distracting Von Cunth's thugs by wedging a celery stalk between his bare buttocks and waving it at them. The audience also is subjected to crude scenes portraying MacGruber's supposedly comic sexual encounters, and to the bloody results of his favorite combat technique: ripping open his adversaries' throats.

Theirs are not the only gorges adversely affected.

The film contains much gory violence, graphic premarital sexual activity, upper female and rear nudity, frequent sexual and scatological humor, more than a dozen uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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