6 – CONEHEADS
If you want an example of an SNL movie that’s saved by the comedy institution’s deep bench, Coneheads is that film. Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin do a decent job sliding back into the roles of Beldar and Prymaat (far better than they’ve been doing lately in those sad State Farm ads), but with almost every role of note filled by the best SNL talent of the early 90s, the movie was able to latch onto both baby boomers who enjoyed the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players and Generation X members who were drawn in by the red-hot cast of the early 90s.
Whereas most SNL movies will borrow one or two cast members outside of the leads, Coneheads goes all out to stock the shelves with the show’s best talent. Just take a look at the all-time great SNL talent contributing to Coneheads; Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Tim Meadows, Julia Sweeney, Jan Hooks, Laraine Newman, and Garrett Morris. Whether it was for just a scene (Lovitz) or as a major character (Farley), just about every single one of these SNL legends brought the quality of their scenes up, making the middling story of the Coneheads’ adventures on Earth far better for it.
5 – STUART SAVES HIS FAMILY
This has to be one of very few intentional comedy films to star a US Senator, but there’s more to Al Franken’s vehicle than just that. Daily Affirmation was one of SNL’s best recurring sketches in the early ’90s (especially in the weaker years of the show), and Franken’s work as the impossibly sensitive guru was a fantastic parody of self-help culture of the time. The uncomfortable awkwardness, the barely concealed rage, and dark humor of a dysfunctional family was all in full effect in Stuart Saves His Family, even if next to no one watched it.
Unlike some SNL characters, Smiley transitions pretty well into the real(er) world as his public access show is cancelled and he is forced to reconnect with his family of addicts and over-eaters. Franken is so good as a self-appointed doctor who can’t help himself or others, and he’s surrounded by great actors who can balance the light with the dark, like Vincent D’Onofrio, Harris Yulin, and Julia Sweeney. Perhaps the world just wasn’t ready for Stuart’s lightly oppressive friendliness, but the Harold Ramis-directed picture operates on a much deeper level than anyone expected (or perhaps even wanted), and it holds up much better than some of the more memorable character vehicles on this list. –Henry Gilbert
4 – WAYNE’S WORLD
YOU MADE IT: We are officially getting into some of the best comedies ever made! Even though The Blues Brothers was a success a decade earlier, none of the sketch-focused characters of SNL’s first fifteen years had managed to connect with the world at large until Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar made the jump from Saturday night to every day at the local theater. With years of classic sketchery as training, Mike Myers’ Wayne and Dana Carvey’s Garth are by far the most lovable main characters in an SNL movie thanks to their unparalleled on-screen friendship chemistry, super-quotable banter, and the fact that they were pretty much the coolest dudes in the universe at the turn of the 1990s.
The movie itself starts a little slow (do you really remember anything pre-Bohemian Rhapsody?), but once Wayne meets Cassandra the movie is off to the races as we see Wayne’ sell out while getting more and more desperate to win the heart of a rocker grrl. The movie hits classic status right around the ending where Kurt Fuller’s character is convinced to join the forces of good and we get the hilarious Bad/Scooby-Doo/Good endings.
3 – MACGRUBER
Here we have the most under-rated Saturday Night Live movie of all time. The most recent (and perhaps last) SNL character to make the jump to cinema, MacGruber attempted a mission even crazier than disarming a bomb with weird ingredients; turning a fast-paced skit that always ends in an explosion into a 90-minute movie that can capture the madcap insanity in a completely different way. Thanks to the extremely underrated writing talents of Forte, John Solomon, and director Jorma Taccone (who also co-wrote the overlooked “Hot Rod”), MacGruber packs its run time full of shocking scenes and great lines from the incomparable Will Forte.
Whether he’s accidentally exploding his WWE cameo-filled strike team, hilariously pleading for his life, sticking celery up his butt, or being weirdly loud during sex, Will Forte does perhaps the best job of taking a one-note joke meant to be funny for 2 minutes and turning him into a character you want to see do even zanier stuff in a sequel. While Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillippe keep up as MacGruber’s allies and veteran performers Powers Boothe and Val Kilmer connect as MacGruber’s superior and archenemy (respectively) this is a tour de Forte that really should have cemented him as a dependable comic lead. The sliver lining is this movie’s box-office failure means we’ll hopefully get more hours every year of Will Forte as Phil Miller in Last Man on Earth.
2 – THE BLUES BROTHERS
Despite only appearing three times during Lorne Michaels’ first run on Saturday Night Live, Jake and Elwood Blues made an immediate impression, as two Chicago-born fans of the iconic blues music did some very lively covers on the SNL stage. With the help of John Landis (who directed and co-wrote the film), The Blues Brothers made the leap to the big screen in 1980 to star in the first-ever SNL movie. The movie is now a cult classic, capturing not only the manic energy of the early SNL years, but also the same reliance on chaos, celebrity cameos, and musical guests. Blues Brothers really does capture the spirit of the source material, while expanding it all to fit the big screen.
John Landis has a sense of humor and physical chaos that’s there whenever Belushi and Aykroyd are on screen, whether getting tortured by nuns or crashing through a mall. And John Belushi’s manic energy shines through, just beneath Elwood’s blank delivery and opaque glasses, making you wish he would have lived to make an impression on future films. The pair are surrounded by talent, from Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles to John Candy and Carrie Fisher, usually held together in a patchwork of scenes thanks to the strength of the sublime musical performances and seriously risky camera work. Today’s Blues Brothers may seem a bit hokey and lame (thanks in no small part to Jim Belushi being garbage), but re-watching the original can still take you back to a time when everything felt fresh and dangerous. –Henry Gilbert
1 – WAYNE’S WORLD 2
Yes, the original Wayne’s World is a great movie, but just about every single classic scene starring Wayne and Garth happens in the second movie without falling back on callbacks to older jokes (much). From the start where Wayne channels The Leprechaun to freak out his friend, fights his girlfriend’s father using kung fu, and encounters a half-naked Indian all the way to meeting Charlton Heston and spoofing The Graduate in order to win Cassandra back, there’s rarely a scene that goes by in Wayne’s World 2 that isn’t a classic in some respect.
As great as the original Wayne’s World cast was, the sequel’s ensemble easily tops it. Christopher Walken is a far better antagonist than Rob Lowe was, while Chris Farley has a breakout role as Wayne and Garth’s pathetic friend Milton. What puts Wayne’s World 2 over the top, though, are classic cameos from the likes of Heston, Drew Barrymore (as Bjergen Kjargen, from Kneurgen, near the Joergen Fjords), Kevin Pollack as a eye-catching desk clerk, Ted McGinley and Harry Shearer as unforgettable radio personalities, and Robert Smigel and Bob Odenkirk as the scene-stealing concert nerds. It’s a shame the classic duo have rarely appeared since then because Wayne’s World 2 proved Myers and Carvey were more than able to deliver more than one all-time classic out of the SNL skit phenomenon.
What do you think of the rankings? What SNL movies are your favorite (and least-favorite)? Sound off with your thoughts below and listen to Laser Time’s SNL Movies episode to hear our extended thoughts on each movie listed here.