Of all the recent "Saturday Night Live" recurring characters, MacGruber seemed the least likely to land his own feature film. After all, the skit spends about 15 seconds with the action hero before he's blown to smithereens.
However, star Will Forte imagined greater things for our mulleted man of action, and he convinced Lorne Michaels and the powers that be to turn the skit into a 90-minute film that opens Friday.
"MacGruber" is getting solid buzz on the eve of its opening, but has to overcome the stigma that SNL films can't cut it both from a quality and financial standpoint. There have been dozens of movies based on SNL characters, and they can be classified into three main categories: the good, the so-so and the ugly.
Where will "MacGruber" stack up? Only time will tell. For now, let's take a look at the checkered history of "Saturday Night Live" on the silver screen.
This is going to be a very brief section. Unfortunately, what's funny in two-minute increments often does not translate to film. Sure, you could make an argument for a couple of other films you'll find later on, but there are two standout SNL films that few could argue with.
"The Blues Brothers": Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's mischevious musicians were a hit on the show, and thanks to an all-star cast, great musical numbers and one of the most spectacular car crashes in film, the film adaptation remains a comedy classic that retains its rewatchability to this day.
"Wayne's World": Mike Myers and Dana Carvey struck comedic gold with their tale of Wayne and Garth, two metalheads from Aurora, Ill. who host a cable access show. The film remains the highest-grossing SNL flick at $121 million, and helped Queen get back on the charts thanks to the in-car performance of "Bohemian Rhapsody."
These are SNL films that, just by not being abysmal, have moved up in the hierarchy. Yeah, by any other standard, they aren't very good, but you can at least get a couple of laughs out of them. I wouldn't argue with you if you wanted to send one of these down to the bad pile.
"A Night at the Roxbury": Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell's dancing Butabi brothers were a hit on the small screen, but people weren't as interested in their filmatic quest to open a club where "the inside is on the outside, and the outside is on the inside." Sue me, I thought it was pretty darn funny.
"The Ladies Man": Again, Tim Meadows' lacivious talk-show host was funny in spurts, but trying to pin a feature-length plot around a horny dude is more difficult. However, the film does sport some inspired supporting turns from Ferrell and Julianne Moore, which makes it more memorable than ...
Perhaps the folks behind these films should have quit while they were ahead. Critical and commercial failures, these films helped damage the SNL brand so much there hasn't been a SNL film since 2000.
"Coneheads": More than a decade too late, this tepid tale of the pointy-headed extraterrestrials living in suburbia lacked any satiric bite or topical humor.
"Blues Brothers 2000": Belushi likely rolled over in his grave after this abomination, which took everything good about the first movie and did the opposite. One of the worst sequels ever.
"Wayne's World 2": Nothing more than a quick cash grab, this follow-up lacked the humor and heart of the original, trading on the theory that bigger equals better. Made about 1/3 of its predecessor at the box office.
"Superstar": Clumsy schoolgirl Mary Katherine Gallagher is pretty much a one-note character, and so once she flailed about a couple of times, the film ran out of creative gas.
"Stuart Saves His Family" and "It's Pat": How these two lower-tier characters got their own movies is beyond me, but both rank as two of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history. "Stuart" grossed less than $1 million, while "Pat," in its minimal release, gathered a meager $60K.