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VULTURE DROPPINGS OF THE WEEK: ‘SNL’ Movie Spin-Offs

I’m well aware that what I’m about to say is, at this point, beyond stating the obvious — and adding insult to injury, considering MacGruber‘s disastrous opening weekend numbers — but here goes: movies spun off from short Saturday Night Live skits tend to suck. Plain and simple. What’s amusing for three or four minutes — the first time — becomes cloying on the big screen.

The ratio of good ones (The Blues Brothers) to bad ones (Coneheads) is staggering. Lorne Michaels may be a power producer on televison, but when it comes to film, he’s as clueless as MacGruber, the lovably dimwitted MacGyver parody played multiple times — and then some — by Will Forte.

The re-occuring sketch always features MacGruber unsuccessfully attempting to diffuse a bomb, which, ironically, is exactly what Forte, Michaels and Universal (the studio which had a hell of a losing streak this past year) did last weekend. Despite heavy marketing that desperately tried to pass MacGruber off as a Beverly Hills Cop-type action comedy and a fun throwback to Wayne’s World – the blockbuster SNL spin-off that was one of the highest grossing films of 1992 and is the reason they keep making ‘em today — nobody showed up. MacGruber is just another SNL bomb that  couldn’t be diffused (Forte should go back to doing Pepsi commercials). Below are some of the other feature-length sketches that can be filed under “I can’t believe they turned that into a movie!”

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1. Coneheads (1993)

Think aliens with cone-shaped heads sucking dust out of a vacuum cleaner is funny? Then this is the movie for you.

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2. It’s Pat (1994)

This is the only scene that this movie is remembered for. It’s all downhill from there (although, I gotta admit I watched this as a kid dozens of times).

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3. A Night At The Roxbury (1998)

Besides a running gag where Will Ferrel recalls meeting the actor Emilio Estevez to anybody who will listen (“I was like, ‘Emilio!’”), this movie offers few laughs.

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4. Superstar (1999)

Molly Shannon is a great comedic supporting actress. A lead? Not so much.

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5. The Ladies Man (2000)

By the time this hit theaters, the Ladies Man’s charm had all but worn off: it grossed less than $14 million. For an art film, that’s great. For a wannabe commercial film, it’s, well, you get the picture.

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