The freaky, geeky James Franco returned to host Saturday Night Live in promotion of The Interview.
Forgive me, as I’m going to go full film school for a second. Comedy changes. The written classics like Animal House and American Pie have fallen away to Will Ferrel/Judd Apatow improv, but it’s time for the genre to change again. Watch the trailer for The Interview and try to tell me it looks genuinely funny; try to tell me you don’t want to punch James Franco in the face. This is only a recent feeling I’ve had, but this smugness and mojo loss definitely showed in this week’s episode. End rant.
So let’s break this down. People like numbered scores, so I’ve chosen to rate every sketch at 0, 1/2, or 1 point. A sketch not worth watching at all receives a 0, a sketch that doesn’t stand out but didn’t totally flop gets a 1/2, and a sketch that does its job of entertaining and delivering a few laughs will earn 1 point. A standout sketch that goes above and beyond will receive the normal point plus 1 bonus point. Cool? Cool. Let’s talk about it!
Air Date: 12/06/14
Host: James Franco
Musical Guest: Nicki Minaj
Cold Open: Politics Nation
It’s another political opener (it’s in the name!), but Keenan Thompson’s Al Sharpton is still great. It’s one of the few one-note characters SNL hasn’t run into the ground. 1 point
I’ve already stated my feelings on the state of comedy film, and the Rogen-Franco duo is definitely a part of that. But hey, I seriously appreciate an actual monologue over yet another musical number. 1/2 point
Peter Pan Live!
Aidy Bryant’s Tonkerbell hasn’t been seen in a while, but she’s still hilarious. Unfortunately, Franco’s horrible Walken impression brought the sketch down. 1/2 point
Star Wars Teaser
Taran Killam’s old Harrison Ford impression is gold, and the lightsaber walker gag with Franco’s retired Luke Skywalker was very well executed. I had some decent laughs throughout the whole piece. 1 point
Jingle Ballerz Special
The good: Kate McKinnon’s Beiber (still funny) and Killam’s Eminem (not seen in a while). The bad: the rest of the sketch. There was no arc and no real point, and that makes it hard to build punchlines. 1/2 point
It was nice to see Mike O’Brien again–I suspect the sketch was written by him. The hard left turn with the exploding friends was a good idea, but the sketch overall wasn’t impressive. 1/2 point
Cecily Strong can always get a few chuckles out of me, but this sketch was quite weak overall. And the kiss between Franco and Kyle Mooney was played for pure shock value…which means it wasn’t funny. 1/2 point
While I like the idea of having a “lead story” on Update (the Kardashian “internet breaking” photo comes to mind), Colin Jost and Michael Che spent an uncomfortable amount of time ranting about the Eric Garner fiasco with little jokes. It’s a bummer when I look to the duo to save weak shows. As far as guests, recurring character Anthony Crispino is starting to lose his luster, Leslie Jone’s latest standup correspondence was just all right, and Nicki Minaj as Kim was passable (as far as jokes, not the impression itself). 1/2 point
The premise here was great, but the sketch just wasn’t very funny until the last few jokes. I blame this on the aforementioned Franco douche aura. 1/2 point
Porn Stars with James Franco and Seth Rogen
This must be the eighth time SNL has done this bit, but it’s still funny thanks to the expertly played ditziness of Strong and Vanessa Bayer. One of these days Brecky and whatsername will get those product names right… 1 point
Total: 6.5/10 points
This is two mediocre shows in a row. Hopefully the next one–hosted by Bilbo Baggins himself, Martin Freeman–will do better.