Live, from Laser Time, it’s Saturday Night Live’s movies, ranked from worst to best! With our host Controversial Opinion and musical guest Angry Comments!
With 40 seasons under Saturday Night Live’s belt (read our highlights of SNL season 40), NBC’s weekend comedy staple has become an institution on the small screen. But when it comes to the screen, even though many of today’s top comedy film staples got their start at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, few of them broke out in Hollywood with characters they honed live from New York. SNL’s cinematic contributions have had more than its fair share of ups, downs, hits and bombs, but it’s rare you’ll get a common answer when you ask which of the films is the best or worst. Enter Laser Time.
Earlier this week, we posted an episode of Laser Time covering SNL movies, but in order to keep things civil as we chatted, we left the order up to the cold heart of objective science: Rotten Tomatoes scores. However, movie critics aren’t always right (especially when it comes to comedy), so we’ve taken it up ourselves to rank the 11 major SNL movies ourselves! As a quick caveat, we only counted live-action characters created by SNL castmembers — sorry Mr. Bill and Bob Roberts. With that out of the way, it’s time to rank (CLAP) you up!
11 – BLUES BROTHERS 2000
Despite hitting theaters almost two decades later, this sequel is FAR more dated than the original. Made at a time when putting the number 2000 in the title was a sign of looking ahead, this was meant to update and celebrate the Blues Brothers concept for the new millennium. Instead it just looked like a bunch of dopey dads dancing, desperate to prove they’re still cool and have lots of hip friends. Sadder still, filling the shoes of a glaringly dead original Blues Brother proved impossible with even three times the feet. Thankfully, we were spared the inclusion of Jim Belushi, but the band was joined by a 10-year-old white kid, which was unanimously praised by fans of “The Blues” everywhere for its courageous authenticity.
What’s most depressing about Blues Brothers 2000 is that is was something of a “last shot” for everyone involved. Several celebrated musicians got a final moment in the spotlight before they/the music business died, John Landis was back as director, Dan Aykroyd got in 1970’s SNL shape, and John Goodman (god bless him) was really trying. But no amount of crashed cars and legendary musicians can make this overlong baby boomer circle jerk watchable. -Henry Gilbert
10 – SUPERSTAR
Poor Molly Shannon. Despite being one of the most prolific performers during her SNL tenure (eclipsed only by Will Ferrell), her first major shot at silver screen superstardom didn’t pan out. The ingredients were there — the previous year’s A Night At The Roxbury proved that a flimsy sketch premise could work as a feature film if the characters were defined well enough, and the keen comedic mind of Kids in the Halls’ Bruce McCulloch was directing the project.
Unfortunately, Superstar just didn’t come together. Shannon’s weird Catholic school girl character Mary Katherine Gallagher didn’t exhibit much more range than the nerdy awkwardness she exhibited on TV, and a still wet behind the ears Will Ferrell was a bit muted in his role as MKG’s love interest. Superstar isn’t inherently bad, but it is boring, and that’s a fate worse than death for a mainstream comedy.
9 – IT’S PAT
It’s Pat is a weird outlier among Saturday Night Live movies. As the only movie outside of the Blues Brothers series that Lorne Michaels didn’t produce, it sadly lacks even the comfortingly mediocre flavor of the other movies on this list. Even the worst SNL films serve as a showcase for many of the sketch show’s best actors, but nobody from that era’s cast makes an appearance, outside of Tim Meadows, who was hardly a recognizable alum at this point since The Ladies Man was years away and the OJ Simpson trial hadn’t started yet. This being 1994, Dana Carvey reprising his role of Chris, Pat’s equally androgynous partner, could’ve boosted It’s Pat’s profile immeasurably, but he’d left SNL a year earlier and was too busy sinking his own promising movie career. (Kids in the Hall’s Dave Foley has the unenviable job of both replacing Carvey and starring in a pretty terrible movie.)
As for the film itself, It’s Pat alternates between being too goofy and outright mean-spirited, though Charles Rocket’s mid-90s renaissance as an understated villain in comedy movies is on display as he incessantly searches for keys to Pat’s identity. There’s a few good teases about the titular character’s gender (including a whole Ween concert getting a look at Pat’s goods), but the film seems intent on holding that reveal for a sequel that would never come, and the premise wears thin even for this short 78-minute movie.
8 – THE LADIES MAN
As a character who did nothing more than dispense advice over the phone on TV, Leon Phelps’ transition to the big screen is far better than it had any right to be. The key was TLM’s “R” rating (the first SNL movie to bear that rating since The Blues Brothers 20 years earlier), which really let the movie go balls deep into mature subject matter.
Without the censors who see fit to keep profanity off a show that airs on Saturday around midnight, The Ladies Man starts up with Phelps dispensing more graphic advice than had ever been heard on network television. The finale’s pretty great once we meet the group of unknowing cuckolds created by Phelps’ sexcapades, with some great comedic performances by Ferrell, Lee Evans (There’s Something About Mary), and quintessential character actor Ken Hudson Campbell. Unfortunately the middle (where Phelps visits past conquests) doesn’t fare quite as well, leaving The Ladies Man just over a third of the way short of classic status.
7 – A NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY
The daily airing of this flick on The Movie Channel during the late 90s probably helped, but A Night At The Roxbury can really grow on you if you let it. It came out in 1998 at a time when viewers were ready for another SNL movie (it had been five years since a high-profile SNL movie due to Stuart Saves His Family’s invisibility), and for what might by the flimsiest movie premise ever, it delivered a lot of unexpected comedy. Who would have thought that the almost-mute Butabi brothers (who said little besides “You?! Me?!” and forcibly dry hump women) would make for such memorable characters and have such an endearing story?
A lot of the credit has to go to Will Ferrell (with his finest performance at that point) and Chris Kattan (with his finest performance ever) who imbue the brothers with a level of vapidity and innocence that makes you want to see them succeed together but still feel okay with laughing at their exploits along the way. Some great performances by supporting characters like Michael Clark Duncan’s bouncer, Dan Hedaya as their frustrated father, and the scene-stealing Chazz Palminteri as an ass-obsessed nightclub mogul push this movie higher than it really should have been. Let’s be real; even when the skits were airing, the “What is Love” guys never seemed destined to become classic SNL characters, but this movie does more than fine by their legacy.
Where do Elwood Blues and Wayne Campbell rank? Read on to the next page to find out!