Most of the time, the SNL opening monologue is a formality and a tradition, a road bump on the way to the actual good parts of an episode. It feels like something the guest host does because he has to, not because anyone on the writing staff actually had a good idea. And that’s why last night’s monologue was such a joyous surprise: it was not only the best monologue of the season, but the best sketch of the whole night.
It was inevitable: Disney is making a live action Winnie the Pooh movie because of course Disney would make a live action Winnie the Pooh movie. The studio’s tactic of bringing their animated properties into the live action realm has already paid off with Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent and Cinderella, so why not pay another visit to the Hundred Acre Wood and let a live action Christopher Robin hang out with a CGI Piglet?
It’s an SNL sketch premise so silly that it feels like it belongs in the early ’90s, not 2015. Taking place in the distant future, the scene asks us to believe that chickens have evolved to be more intelligent than humans and that a chicken could command a spaceship of human beings and, most importantly, that a crew member played by guest host Chris Hemsworth would fall in love with the chicken.
The internet will never stop arguing about when it is okay to show films with explicit content to children. But, there is one thing that we’re pretty sure everyone can agree on: showing the violent and disturbing The ABCs of Death to five classes of unsuspecting students is an act of irresponsible idiocy on just about every conceivable level. Columbus, Ohio substitute teacher Sheila Kearns was rightfully let go from her job back in 2013 when she screened the film for her substitute Spanish classes, but the courts have handed down an additional punishment: 90 days in jail.
Even when it’s at its best, modern SNL is rarely shocking. Funny, strange, silly and clever, sure. But shocking? Nah. The show doesn’t seem to set out to offend every week. So when the show broke out a fake commercial that depicted 50 Shades of Grey star and guest host Dakota Johnson joining the radical terrorist group ISIS, jaws rightfully hit the ground. Who approved this? And could they start approving more sketches?
With Dakota Johnson guest hosting, last night’s SNL had no shortage of 50 Shades of Grey jokes. For her part, Johnson seemed equally bemused and embarrassed by her controversial new hit, rolling with whatever the show threw at her and always coming out looking far better than her naysayers expected. Her ability to make fun of herself and the film that has turned her into an overnight movie star really came together in the only sketch of the night that required her to play herself.
Modern SNL has one of the strongest female line-ups in the show’s history, so it’s always a pleasure when the writers give this group of extremely funny ladies a chance to shine together. This sketch is a weird one because it feels like such an odd and specific concept that must have been a real pain in the butt to pitch in the writer’s room, but the execution is simply sublime: a group of women start being brutally honest with the people in their lives and immediately celebrate to the impossibly catchy sounds of Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.”
For many viewers, the Oscars are are chance to snark and make fun of everything that happens on stage (and can you blame ‘em?). But then the “In Memoriam” segment comes around and reduces even the most cynical person to puddle of bubbling tears. The 2015 Oscars “In Memoriam” is no different, offering a whirlwind tour through a year’s worth of beloved people who passed away. Get ready ... it’s about to get a little dusty in here.
In the midst of an otherwise dull (and occasionally painful) red carpet special that aired before the SNL 40th anniversary show, special guest Jim Carrey livened things up by by making Matt Lauer really uncomfortable. His comedic weapon of choice? The recently suspended/disgraced NBC newsman Brian Williams.
A few key members of the SNL cast and crew must love “The Californians” because the much-derided sketch was brought back to life for the show’s star-studded 40th anniversary special. For those of us who have always enjoyed this bizarre sketch (and there are about three of us), it’s a welcome return and we will greedily drink up the angry tears of everyone else.
We knew going in that the SNL 40th anniversary special would be chock-full of just about every famous person who has ever walked within spitting distance of 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the opening monologue was quick to make use of this genuinely insane temporary cast of stars. Things got started on the right foot when the always-welcome Steve Martin took the stage ... but then he was joined by Tom Hanks. And then things got really crazy.
‘Magic Mike’ was a perfect storm of a movie. For some of the moviegoing population, it was a chance to load yourself up with frozen margaritas and go watch a bunch of extremely attractive, chiseled men strut their stuff on camera. For cinephiles, it was the next film from the ever-versatile genius Steven Soderbergh, whose filmography is littered with experimental and pop masterpieces alike. It was a big hit, a sequel was greenlit, and now, the first ‘Magic Mike XXL’ poster has arrived, placing returning star Channing Tatum (and his abs) front and center.
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