Saturday Night Live: Helen Mirren/Foo Fighters (4/9/11)

Posted: April 11, 2011 by Brendan Wahl in SNL Reviews
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by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 19)

I would like to apologize in advance if parts of this review come off as incoherent as I am very tired and in dire need of some shut-eye.

This week, we get our second British host in a row in the form of Helen Mirren but unlike our most recent royal host, Helen is an actress and will more than likely be a lot more at ease in sketches as well as refraining from playing herself in every single piece. Helen is probably best-known for her role as Queen Elizabeth and for being as far removed from that role as possible in reality. She was also a lot of fun in Red, which came out towards the end of last year. That role alone gives me hope that she has some comic ability to display for the world on New York’s stage of stages.

Joining Helen and making their sixth appearance is the Foo Fighters. I’ve got nothing but good words regarding this band and at least this time, they will get to perform their second song (damn you, Jon Bon Jovi! You egotistical rectal wart!). This also marks Dave Grohl’s tenth overall appearance as a musical guest, an honour that places him as the most frequent musical guest in the show’s history in an individual sense.

Beezel-pop, boo boo ca choo, cha fanny fanny ga zinga-blam!

(It was about here I realized I am way too tired for this and set a course for Snoozeland)

There we go. All refreshed.

Where am I?

By the way, I will be switching to a new rating system soon. I just haven’t figured out what yet…

The Show:

1. Presidential Address (2:59)
-Armisen

I know some people are tiring of Fred’s borderline-acceptable impression of El Presidente, but I, for one, am perfectly okay with it. Here, we get President Obama discussing the near-government shutdown before going into details regarding the budget and outlining how it has made virtually everyone unhappy. It’s been mentioned before but this seemed pretty hastily written, although I did like the jokes about Romney and McCain. C

2. Monologue (2:15)
-Mirren, Hader, Moynihan, Samberg, Thompson, Brittain, Killam

After making a cute joke about last week’s episode, Helen proves to the audience that she is the furthest thing removed from most of her acting roles. She is soon joined by some of the male castmembers in sailor outfits for one of your typical song-and-dance monologues. Despite a clever quick costume change by Mirren, this song wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the ones from Cranston/West or Cyrus/Strokes. I do like Andy getting chastised by the rest of the cast for ogling Mirren, though. B-

3. Mort Mort Feingold: Accountant For The Stars (3:39)
-Mirren, Armisen, Elliott, Hader, Samberg, Bayer, Brittain (x2), Killam, Pedrad, Pharoah

I never thought I’d see this again! Mort Mort (Samberg) welcomes more celebrity clients to discuss their income taxes, including James Franco (Brittain), the Kardashians (Elliott, Bayer, & Pedrad), and Tim Burton (Hader) & wife Helena (Mirren) among others. This was pretty straight-forward with Feingold going through the motions and making some funny one-liners with the various celebrities. I think my favourite impression was the return of James Franco, but I also really liked Taran’s take on Ricky Martin. B+

4. Digital Short: Helen Mirren’s Titties (2:16)
-Mirren, Dave Grohl, Moynihan, Samberg, Wiig, Pedrad

While Helen gets ready backstage, Nasim approaches her and, after grabbing a hold of her cans, is transported into a magical world where we are shown glimpses of ridiculous imagery like OJ, Brendan Fraser at an awards show, Bobby Moynihan in a bee costume, and others. Eventually she is transported to a heaven-like world with a gatekeeper (Samberg) and Dave Grohl. This was a really goofy short and one that could’ve been awful based on its simple premise, but it ended up being very enjoyable. B+

5. Fox and Friends (4:38)
-Mirren, Armisen, Moynihan, Bayer, Killam

In a very accurate take on those morons on FOX News, the three musketeers themselves (Moynihan, Bayer, & Killam) discuss the recent government shutdown and soon delve into their usual claptrap of insinuating that Obama is a communist and that Mexicans will be taking over everyone’s jobs. Mirren shows up as Sandy Blunt, a crazed right-wing nutjob who discusses the problem of anchor babies and reverse-anchor babies. The trio of actors playing the hosts really nail their cadences down to the fake style of acting and Moynihan shines as the dumbest of the three. A

6. Mary Shelley (3:54)
-Mirren, Armisen, Hader, Moynihan, Sudeikis, Wiig, Brittain

During a mini-celebration for Shelley’s (Mirren) success with Frankenstein, her landlord (Armisen) shows up that causes some to question where the inspiration for the novel came from. This was one of those sketches that depended on Armisen’s slightly-beleaguered attitude towards something, but this was one of the better ones. Certainly better than that sketch from Hathaway/F&TM where Fred played the Jewish weather vane. This one could’ve been so much worse but it was saved with good acting and a short running time. B

7. Foo Fighters perform “Rope” (4:40)

I haven’t heard anything new from the Foos in a long while, but this was definitely a worthwhile addition to their songbook. Grohl deserves his status of being a ten-timer on the show and he earns it again here with another great performance from the band. The swinging lights were a nice touch as well. A-

8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (13:20)
-Also: Bill Hader, Kenan Thompson, & Kristen Wiig

Seth had a good joke involving Glenn Beck this week as well as a cute bit on Kate Middleton’s hairstylists dependant on Seth’s knowledge of Disney movies. Some other good bits from Seth include a story on a priest in an incestual relationship, Flava Flav’s Fried Chicken and hookers taking credit cards (no connection between the two previous stories). The commentaries were winners for the most part tonight as James Carville (Hader) stops by to comment on the budget plan and eventually delves into weird discussions involving Mambo No. 5, being raised by eels, and Gopher Day (“the nudity is not necessary but I prefer it”). Carville is obviously a favourite of Bill’s but it is also a favourite of mine and apparently, a good deal of audience members. Kristen Wiig shows up as a flight attendant that survived a Boeing 747 that developed a huge hole while in mid-flight. At first, it seems like it’s going to be one of those bizarre-for-the-sake-of-being-bizarre characters from Wiig, but this one was funny due to Kristen’s southern drawl with her delivery and the writing of the piece itself was amusing. Lastly, Jean K. Jean (Thompson) makes his seventh appearance and nothing is better or worse. I guess you either like or hate this character and I’m at ease with it just as long as Virginiaca doesn’t come back. Overall, a fairly solid edition of Update. B+

9. The Best of Both Worlds (4:39)
-Mirren, Moynihan, Samberg, Thompson, Killam

Hugh Jackman (Samberg) hosts a show in which he interviews other celebrities who seem to have two sides to them in terms of their film work. His guests include Gerard Butler (Killam), who comes out in full Spartan gear complete with a “Phantom of the Opera” mask, Ice Cube (Thompson), and Julie Andrews (Mirren) in perhaps the funniest bit of the sketch where she unleashes HER other side on her assistant (Moynihan). This was something of a gem. It may have been a simple talk show sketch but Samberg’s Hugh Jackman was hilarious and to be quite honest, everyone in this sketch was a lot of fun. That’s all it was: FUN. A-

10. Crunk-Ass Easter Festival (2:38)
-Mirren, Moynihan, Sudeikis, Pedrad, Pharoah

Another appearance from DJ Supersoak (Sudeikis) and Lil Blaster (Pedrad)? Cool with me! This sketch basically depends on how ridiculous the festivities are and whether Ass Dan (Moynihan) shows up again. I loved so many of the bits here from sending the Chilean miners back into the mine, Elian Gonzalez in a dunk tank, methed-out coyotes, and a screening of Juwanna Man. Entertaining stuff here. B+

11. The Roosevelts (3:04)
-Mirren, Armisen, Elliott, Hader, Moynihan, Thompson, Brittain, Killam

Yeah, I'm a pervert. So sue me.

Spoofing the historical inaccuracies found within the mini-series The Kennedys, the next family to be unfairly skewered is the Roosevelts including things that make absolutely no sense like a romance between Eleanor Roosevelt (Mirren) and Marilyn Monroe (Elliott), who would’ve been five at the time. Armisen was also very entertaining as the douchebag producer who put the show together. The absolute best part though is Kenan Thompson showing up as Teddy Roosevelt and directly addressing the camera. This was a classic. A+

12. Perspectives Photo Studios (2:06)
-Hader, Meyers, Moynihan, Sudeikis, Wiig, Brittain, Killam, Pedrad

Finally, a photo studio that will help your appearance when texting a picture of your penis to different women. This sketch marks yet more appearances from Paul and Taran, making it a pretty good night for the featured players tonight. Despite that this felt a bit dated, it was still a clever parody and I really liked Seth Meyers’ appearance (along with the fact that he was credited as “America’s Comedian”). B+

13. Foo Fighters perform “Walk” (4:22)

Another great song from the Foos that I had never heard before this show. And unlike Elton, this song actually sounds much different from their first song. I mean, I respect Elton and all but c’mon. He basically did the same song twice last week, despite them both being acceptable. Anyway, this gets a A.

14. Bongo’s Clown Room (6:11)
-Mirren, Dave Grohl, Elliott, Sudeikis, Wiig, Pedrad

On his last night at a strip joint (because of winning $9,200 on a scratch ticket), a DJ (Sudeikis) introduces the final gang of strippers while making some cheap jokes. This was a great character study when at first glance it seemed like a sketch that just didn’t get any laughs. I really enjoyed this upon second viewing and it was a tour-de-force for Sudeikis. I will miss that guy when he leaves. Mirren also deserves some credit for her role as an aging stripper, Dave Grohl for his amusing cameo, and Wiig for her wacky dance moves. Best sketch of the night. A+

Helen thanks the Foos, the cast, the writers, the lighting crew, the grips, “Mighty” Lorne, and pretty much everyone in the world before embracing them all on stage and waving goodnight.

This was a solid show and definitely a fairly large improvement over last week’s with Elton John pulling double-duty. Mirren was a very game host who was willing to do pretty much anything (including making out with Abby Elliott… damn), but it was her take on Julie Andrews that made me laugh the hardest. The Foos were rockin’ too with a couple of great songs and featuring a couple of funny bit performances from Dave Grohl, himself.

It should be noted that tonight was an awesome showing from the featured players, particularly Brittain and Killam.

Host Rating: B+
Musical Guest Rating: A-
Show Rating: B+

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