Continuing Disney’s live-action remakes, host Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson popped up in forest-y drag as a young deer seeking revenge against hunters for their role in his mother’s death. Thanks to Johnson’s timing and commitment, this one scored nothing but guffaws. Oh, and Taran Killam as Vin Diesel as Thumper, was absolute perfection, too.
Kate McKinnon brought back her Ecce Homo “painter” to weigh in on the controversial/hideous Lucille Ball sculpture in Celoron, N.Y. McKinnon’s Gimenez described with glee and admiration the statue’s “Paulie Walnuts” sideburns, serial-killer face and disturbing mouth (which says “I kill you! I kill you in your sleep!”) — and scored huge laughs in the process.
Try not to laugh at this montage of joyous potheads learning they can now carry up to 25 grams of weed in public without fear of arrest — from Leslie Jones running her smoke-filled car into a curb and then rejoicing “de Blasio, baby!” to host Woody Harrelson’s dreadlocked dude sadly contemplating his bong after learning he can’t actually inhale in the streets.
You had to figure SNL would play with a variation or two on Taraji P. Henson’s super-popular TV character’s name — but an Elmo fur coat and the recycling of the line “You need to stop rappin’ like you from the streets, ’cause you not about that life!” to Mr. Snuffleupagus were pretty genius. As for Cookie vs. Cookie Monster, the blue furry one never stood a chance, did he?
Host Blake Shelton was at his goofball best playing a cantankerous audience member who, following an impressive card trick, begins making demands on Taran Killam’s exasperated magician. Just when I worried Shelton’s “Make me rich!” mantra was getting stale, he began a rapid-fire list of increasingly outrageous requests: “Give me indestructible bones!” “Guns for hands!” “Give me the power to go down on myself!”
James Franco’s take on Christopher Walken’s Capt. Hook was a highlight, but so too was Aidy Bryant’s gutter-y Tonkerbell (ready to kill a hummingbird and land on some raw meat) and Cecily Strong’s Allison Williams-playing-a-very-womanly-Pan. Hat tip to the show’s writing staff for reacting quickly to a major pop-cultural event from just two nights prior.
Returning to the show as host, former cast member Bill Hader brought out one of his best recurring characters, war-vet puppeteer Anthony Peter Coleman of “Operation Urgent Fury,” a man with a bottomless well of dark and horrifying quips and anecdotes. (“Here’s a joke… God!”)
Jim Carrey’s dead-on parody of McConaughey’s foray into car commercials nailed the Oscar winner’s Southern twang, self-serious tone and even his perfectly swooped-back coif. You’ll howl during his internal debate about life’s important questions: “Who am I? Why am I here? When I’m done rolling up this booger, should I eat it or throw it out the window?”
Was this digital-short mildly inappropriate, horribly offensive, or a welcome return to the wildly subversive SNL glory days? Who honestly expected Johnson’s sweet high-school grad to chirp that totally unexpected, Marcia Brady-esque “Dad, it’s just ISIS,” to her father, and then jump into a truck full of gun-toting terrorists?
The bulk of the Season 40 cast got in on the hilarious, pre-taped fun with a rap about overworked educators enjoying a weather-related break even more than their students. Host J.K. Simmons got to shine as a pants-free principal, but best-in-show honors go to Cecily Strong as a pot-smoking teacher spitting rhymes like, “Zero f—ks given/ This is blizzard livin’!”
Black Widow finally gets to headline an Avengers movie and it turns out to be… a rom-com? Still, Scarlett Johansson’s winking deconstruction of genre tropes made for a more appealing trailer than anything J.Lo or Kate Hudson has released in the last five years, no?
Kate McKinnon’s delicious skewering of the pint-sized poser included sipped juice boxes, tragic pushups and Cecily Strong as a supermodel cringing her way through supposedly sexy scenarios. Sample dialogue: “Yo, my pee-pee’s in there!”
Host Louis C.K. went all out as a cellphone salesman overheard on his first day at work doing an impersonation of his rageful black female boss (Leslie Jones), then spending the next five years pretending he speaks in a similar tone and cadence to her in order to avoid being fired. Cue-card flubs aside, C.K.’s compliment that Jones’ nails were “on fleek,” plus her final-act treachery to expose the big lie, had us howling with laughter — right down to Jones’ bodacious Star Wars reference.
A promo video for a showdown between wrestlers Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bobby Moynihan gets rapidly (and hilariously) twisted, as Johnson’s Coco Watchout reveals he’s tracked down his rival’s secret daughter (an honors student named Evelyn who’d deemed biological father Moynihan as “not fit to be a dad”) and also managed to Catfish him on the internet in yet another step toward psychological destruction.
Every detail of this pre-taped gem — which welded host Martin Freeman’s breakout role on the British The Office and his current stint in The Hobbit — was perfection. Bobby Moynihan was surprisingly perfect as a David Brent/Gandalf — “THOU! SHALL! NOT! PASS!… gas.” — while Killam’s shirtless, raw-fish-gobbling Gollum added just the right level of absurdity to the mix.