by Brendan Wahl
Well we’ve hit the break, folks. After ten episodes, it is time for the annual holiday break for Saturday Night Live cast and crew a like until January 3rd when they will prepare for the next episode when they return on the air. Oh, and that episode? Well, it’s set to be hosted by an actor named Jim Carrey. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Yes, that’s right. Jim freakin’ Carrey will be making his second hosting appearance on January 8th with musical guest the Black Keys. It promises to be an outstanding show. That is not to take away from the lineup being offered to us with this week’s episode.
The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, seems like one of the most laid-back and amiable people working in Hollywood today. It’s somewhat of a surprise then that he’s only gotten the opportunity to host once before (in 1983, where he did a fairly good job) because he seems like a guy who would be up for pretty much anything. Bridges is here to promote two films: Tron: Legacy, which is already breaking records at the box office, and his upcoming Coen Brothers remake of True Grit, a film that holds a lot of promise, at least in my opinion.
Joining Bridges are two musical guests that are slightly less than laid-back. First up is Eminem, making his fifth appearance on the show ready to showcase his new meaner side that we aren’t so accustomed to. Joining him is Lil Wayne. After a banal performance during the season premiere two years ago, Wayne looks to redeem himself a bit this time and hopefully with the assistance of Eminem, he can pull it off.
1. Christmas Eve in Washington (2:40)
-Armisen, Samberg, Sudeikis, Thompson, Wiig, Bayer
Frosty the Snowman (Thompson) introduces a series of quick clips of several key members of the office looking out the window and dreaming about better headlines in the new year ahead. Whether it’s President Obama (Armisen) imagining lower unemployment and WikiLeaks telling everyone that John McCain is a Muslim, Hillary Clinton (Bayer) thinking about switching jobs with the pres, or Joe Biden (Sudeikis) beaming at the thought of trading jobs with Batman, it was a very funny short and sweet opening. A-
2. Monologue (5:09)
Jeff tries to separate his own personality from that of the Dude’s but of course, its way too similar. The real meat of the monologue though is the Starman bringing out SNL hopeful Cookie Monster to sing along with him to “Silver Bells.” It was a pretty cutesy segment but aw shucks, it was pretty amusing. B
3. Assange Attacks Mark Zuckerberg (2:10)
Before the Facebook founder himself (Samberg) can truly comment on how he feels being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Hader) interrupts again to point out how ridiculous it is that Zuckerberg took that honour over himself. Assange has a point and the segment resulted in another funny piece by Hader. B+
4. The Miley Cyrus Show (4:50)
-Bridges, Moynihan, Sudeikis, Bayer, Brittain
In its third appearance, Miley (Bayer) does some more funny stuff including a segment in which she takes pictures of celebrities and puts them together to see if they had a baby (and that’s more-or-less what the segment is called). Cyrus of course discusses her “very serious five-minute drug problem” and then brings out Nick Nolte (Bridges) as her guest to discuss his own past drug abuse problems. Jeff doesn’t have to stretch too much to do the Nick Nolte impression, but it’s funny nonetheless. The sketch itself is pretty much settled into a formula now but there’s enough goofiness to keep it entertaining. B+
5. Film: I Just Had Sex (2:52)
-Samberg + Akon, Jessica Alba, Blake Lively, & John McEnroe
The Lonely Island’s latest opus has Andy and Jorma rapping about their most recent sexual encounter (with Blake Lively and Jessica Alba, respectively, no less) with the assistance of Akon. It’s hard to get into too many details here, but I don’t see where the criticism comes from here. Akon looks like he’s having a hell of a time and the crew create another fun, catchy song. B+
6. Larry King Live (4:48)
-Bridges, Armisen, Elliott, Thompson, Wiig
After taping his last show, Larry King (Armisen) returns for one more show with Jermaine Jackson (Thompson), the Judds (Elliott & Wiig), and Dog the Bounty Hunter (a hilarious Bridges). The usual stuff happens with King’s senility as he questions Jermaine if he has any siblings and also wants to know which of the Judds is the mother. There’s a few amusing things here as Dog cries in a very scary way and this acts as a great swan song for Armisen’s spot-on Larry King impression. Larry’s daily routine is a hoot as well. A-
7. Crunkmas Karnival! (2:37)
-Moynihan, Sudeikis, Pedrad, Pharoah
Following in the tradition of the Under Underground Records ad, DJ Super Soak (Sudeikis) and Lil Blaster (Pedrad) shill for their big Crunkmas three-day concert. Ass Dan (Moynihan) makes another hilarious appearance and then Pharoah shows up to do a funny bit as MC George Costanza. The most fun comes from all the random events and guests that will be at the event though. Quickly becoming one of my favourite recurring bits. A
8. Eminem & Lil Wayne sing “No Love” (4:59)
The two mega-stars rap with each other with a little “What Is Love” thrown in the background, which made me think: how great would it have been if Ferrell and Kattan interrupted as their Roxbury characters? Of course Em would never let that go down. All that aside, it’s still a good performance from both rappers. A-
9. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (9:25)
-Also: Fred Armisen, Abby Elliott, Bill Hader, Bobby Moynihan, Kenan Thompson, & Taran Killam
Seth’s Harvard joke is one of the highlights of this week’s so-so edition of Update. While the jokes were sharp and witty for the most part, the commentaries left a little to be desired. Michael Steele (Thompson) stops by to talk about running for a second term and his recent defection to the Tea Party in a segment that goes nowhere; likewise, Brad Pitt (Killam) becomes the new weatherman before he is joined by Angelina (Elliott) with another baby. It’s certainly not a great Brad Pitt impression, but it was amusing nonetheless mostly thanks to Killam’s performance abilities. It’s another segment that really doesn’t do much for me either though. Update ends on a high note though with an appearance by three regulars in Stefon (Hader), David Paterson (Armisen), and Snooki (Moynihan) singing “Oh Christmas Tree,” with some funny interaction in between the verses. B-
10. This You Call Wonderful Life?! (4:33)
-Bridges, Armisen, Elliott, Hader, Moynihan, Samberg, Sudeikis, Wiig, Bayer, Brittain, Killam, Pedrad
Presenting the original version of It’s A Wonderful Life, Ben Mankiewicz (Hader) shows the all-Jewish rendition of the film. It’s essentially another version of the Wizard of Oz sketch from the Anne Hathaway episode but this one works a lot better as for some reason, this mish-mash works a lot better with this film. Our host also stops by to make a funny appearance as the rabbi and gives ol’ George Bailey (Sudeikis) some much-needed advice. B+
11. Jeff’d (4:15)
-Bridges, Elliott, Samberg, Sudeikis, Thompson, Brittain, Killam
Spoofing Ashton Kutcher’s once-popular celebrity prank show, Bridges puts his laid-back persona on display as he performs some pretty light-hearted pranks on his old pals like Sam Elliott (Sudeikis), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Elliott), but the best one is Billy Bob Thornton (Samberg), who appears to have some other plans for our host. This was okay, but the sketch was a little too late to work as a Punk’d parody. Jeff was affable though. C+
12. Eminem sings “Won’t Back Down”; Lil Wayne sings “6’7″ (6:14)
-Eminem runs through his hit single and tears the house down before switching off with Lil Wayne, so that the two-time guest can perform a hit of his own, although nothing as powerful as Em’s song. I’m impressed with Marshall’s new image and Wayne was a lot more impressive here than he was two years ago. B+
13. General Store (4:11)
-Bridges, Hader, Moynihan, Sudeikis, Wiig, Bayer
In the old West, two weirdos (Bridges & Wiig) have set up shop in the corner of a general store in order to gift-wrap presents for the customers. It’s an oddball sketch that is okay I guess, but the sketch really owes it to Jeff’s bizarre performance as the developmentally-challenged clerk. C
14. A Holiday Message from The Kardashians (1:54)
-Elliott, Bayer, Pedrad
Kim (Pedrad), Kourtney (Bayer), and Khloe (Elliott) wish everyone a happy holidays and gush over the fact that they’re famous for nothing. I enjoyed this much like their other appearance on Update a while back. B
Jeff waves goodbye and enthusiastically thanks everyone on stage for helpin’ him out tonight.
I really didn’t know how Jeff would do but it was obvious he wouldn’t be as stiff as, say, a Robert DeNiro type but I wasn’t sure if he would be a slam-bang great host. He was pretty darn good I’d say and he did better than most upper-echelon actors on the show normally perform. It’s hard to remember how good Bridges was in his previous hosting stint, but if I remember correctly he was good but somewhat restrained and limited. Here, he seemed to have a lot of fun hosting the Christmas show (and we got quite a large number of Christmas sketches too!) and seemed to be pretty open for anything.
Eminem and Lil Wayne were quite surprising to me, but moreso in the case of the latter performer. Where Wayne’s first stint was lazy and reeked of unpreparedness, he dazzled this time with a much more solid work ethic and some good ol’ fashioned rapping. Eminem was as good as you’d expect as he performed in what was probably his gloomiest appearance on the show and even though he slightly upstaged his partner, the duo had good chemistry and put Diddy Dirty-Money to shame.
All in all, it was a decent Christmas episode. Last week’s act was hard to follow up, but they tried their best this week and ended up with a handful of funny sketches and a couple of meh-worthy ones. Thanks to a willing host, a good musical guest combination, and mostly no cast burnout, we got a pretty entertaining show this week and a good way to end the first half of the season.
I’m not sure if I’ll be back every week to review retro SNLs. I’ll be doing one this Thursday but then after that I may take a break until after the Holidays. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Joyous Kwanzaa everybody!
Host Rating: B+
Musical Guest Rating – Eminem: A-
Musical Guest Rating – Lil Wayne: B+
Show Rating: B/B+