"Saturday Night Live" host Joseph Gordon-Levitt had two stellar performances during the night, and considering how often the guests get sidelined, that's not a bad stat. The show wasn't a standout, but mostly fell into a generally amusing night that only tapered off dramatically at the very end. Considering all of the cool films the "Looper" star has been in, it felt like another missed opportunity, but he made the most of what he was given.
The cold open put Nasim Pedrad and Jay Pharoah together for a parody of the "Kelly and Michael" show. The two had fun with the air-headed enthusiasm typical of the show, though nothing was particularly groundbreaking. The jokes about their size difference got old, though I did laugh at Jay's exuberant exclamation: "We look like the poster for 'Blind Side'!" Bill Hader brooded his way through a Robert Pattinson interview, but the best line was from Jay's former footballer, who continually marveled at the lack of any effort required for the show: "I can't believe I got smashed in the head for 15 years while THIS was a job!"
Despite the fact that "Saturday Night Live" doesn't appear to have the video on its site, the monologue is going to be a viral hit, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt claiming his "favorite superhero movie of the summer" was "Magic Mike." He enthusiastically dove into a provocative dance number, and the dude has definitely got some sexy stripper moves. He was joined on stage by fellow dancers Jay Pharoah, Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan. The biggest laugh came when the guys ripped off their vests one by one to reveal their chests, and Bobby pulled off his vest to reveal…another vest.
Next up was a mildly amusing commercial from "Undecided Voters" who are "harder to convince." They asked hard-hitting questions like "Who is the president now?" and "Can women vote?" with the dead seriousness of your usual overly earnest political ads. The questions got gradually more absurd, pointing out both the ignorance of undecided voters and apathy, as they ended with a guy with his laptop asking, "Where is my power cord?"
JGL sported a pirate-y goatee and "one of five different fedoras" to portray "The Son of the World's Most Interesting Man." The sketch was funny in that he turned out to be such a loser because his dad was "never there" for him, but it missed the mark by not having any of the clever contradictory turns of phrase that make the Dos Equis commercials so entertaining. Jon Wertheim at Sports Illustrated did a much better version during the US Open this year, in honor of suave tennis champion, Roger Federer.
Hader and the guest host followed up with a 1940s style scene with a private detective who shows his client caricatures of the client's wife cheating, rather than photographs. Bill Hader did his best to sell the silly premise, but most of it fell flat.
The Dos Equis parody continued with a second installment, this time with Jason Sudeikis crashing the party and getting into a father-son row. Sudeikis was perfect as the roaring, disapproving Most Interesting Man, and the melodramatic "you couldn't come to one swim meet!" dust-up was a lot funnier than the earlier segment.
Taran Killam went all out in his role as a "volunteer" for a Vegas hypnotist's show. As JGL ran through his deep, raspy-voiced schtick, Killam "pretended" to be hypnotized , constantly winking at the audience when the hypnotist wasn't looking. Killam took off his clothes, pretended to be a dinosaur, and humped Kenan Thompson, and at that point it didn't really matter what the sketch was about. I expected the hypnotist to get the last laugh by proving he got his volunteer to act like an idiot anyway, but it turned out JGL wasn't going to get any of the giggles for this one.
Vanessa Bayer pasted on that perfect fake smile for her commercial for "G.O.B. Tampons," that took a stab at Republicans. The wide-eyed spokesmodel showed how content she was with the bizarre design and painful metal applicator, because after all, no one knows a woman's body like a "65-year-old conservative man." Nice one.
Seth Meyers had a great segment on the "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update, entitled "What Are You Doing?" He chastised President Obama for confessing to not being able to change Washington, in the week that Romney's campaign was in a total tailspin. "You're like the guy who got away with murder and then starts sending the police puzzles on how to figure it out!" Watch the rest of the hilarious tirade here.
This week's bonus points go to Kate McKinnon, for her portrayal of Ann Romney. What seemed at first to be the obvious dopey, vacant-eyed parody turned into a sassy, hilarious performance. Highlights included her lament about liberals being elitist with all of their Hollywood connections. "They get to have dinner with George Clooney, while I get to shake Jon Voight's cold lizard hand." Watch the entire performance, including her Beyonce impression at the "SNL" site for more laughs.
I don't think I've ever found the "old friends sitting around drinking and sharing horrible, obnoxious stories" sketch that "Saturday Night Live" loves to keep bringing out. The only thing that made this worthwhile was Mumford and Sons acting as a Beatles cover band, and the entire group & cast ending the sketch by singing and dancing their way out into the audience.
Seems like JGL finally got his best chance to shine after the monologue on the late night talk show sketch "The Finer Things." Jay and Kenan hosted the ode to rap stars who've moved from hardcore street life to high fashion. Their latest mix tape includes songs like "Rollin' in a Burberry Beret." The "SNL" host came out as a designer for the rap stars' clothing line, totally down with the lingo and dishing on all the latest "tough but feminine" clothing lines he'd discovered during fashion week. Watch the hilarious sketch here.
You could tell it was nearing the end of the night when Gordon-Levitt turned up in drag as an unattractive girl whose parents try to get her a boyfriend-by serenading the guy with a song about all of her faults. The less said about this one, the better.
The last sketch had Nasiim Pedrad and newcomer Tim Robinson as realtors imploring the public, in whiny voices, not to not draw obscene pictures on their billboards.The last sketch had Pedrad and newcomer Tim Robinson as realtors imploring the public, in whiny voices, not to not draw obscene pictures on their billboards. Let's say even less about this one.
Mumford & Sons performed "I Will Wait" and "Below My Feet". The vocals of both numbers had a bit of a pretty but dirge-like air, but usually just when you were about to say "this is too much," they'd kick into their high kicky-bluegrass gear and you'd be tapping your toe right along with them. I've liked some of their previous music better, but I'm definitely not going to knock anyone with this much musical talent performing on the "Saturday Night Live" stage.
What did you think, "Saturday Night Live" fans? A hit or miss this week?
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