Saturday Night Live was hosted by Elton John, but the cameos by Tom Hanks, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Carmelo Anthony regularly upstaged him — not that the genial John seemed to mind. After proclaiming, “The bitch is back!,” Johns’ opening monologue about fatherhood hit the notes you’d expect: the infant boy “rejects the breast… taking after both his parents” as well as self-deprecating yuks about his former drug and alcohol usage.
What followed was one of the more shambling versions of SNL, with familiar faces popping up as though serving as replacements for actual attempts at humor.
There were good moments, to be sure. Tom Hanks and New York Knick Carmelo Anthony put in cameo appearances in an ESPN Classic sketch that featured the welcome return of Will Forte as the blissfully dumb co-anchor Greg Stink, with Jason Sudeikis making most of — and the most of — the KY Jelly jokes. It’s always the best use of vulgarity on SNL every time the show chooses to do this sketch.
A sketch involving London being attacked by a dragon (good job, Paul Brittain, as a BBC news anchor) featured Hanks doing a Michael Caine impersonation, with Andy Samberg dressed as Bono so that Elton could make fun of the Spider-Man musical — “Can you smell a bomb tonight?” he crooned, to the tune of a song from his esteemed hit The Lion King.
The British humor continued with one of SNL‘s occasional glimpses behind the scenes of the British Royal Family, with Armisen and Hader as the Queen and Prince Philip. Elton slid in as himself, and the flimsy sketch disintegrated into some fun punk-rock yelling, as various people pogo-ed to music from John, Armisen, and Hader. It was like Monty Python meets the Sex Pistols, if rather less awesome than that team-up sounds.
The Digital Short was a musical variation on “Laser Cats” in which Andy Samberg and Bill Hader were almost obscured by guest stars Elton, Hanks, and Carmelo. “Laser Cats” is always Samberg’s loopiest, most absurdist Short (which is part of the joke — it’s why Lorne Michaels always “rejects” it), and this one was more fun to watch for the guest stars than the craziness.
“Weekend Update” was pretty terrible, the terribleness interrupted briefly by Samberg’s well-done Nic Cage impersonation (good voice, good make-up) paired with Jake Gyllenhaal showing up to give his new movie Source Code an opening-weekend box-office plug.
The lazy recurring theme was Elton John’s homosexuality, whether he was playing a queen-y movie critic with Taran Killam (a sort of white version of In Living Color‘s old “Men on Film” stand-by) or sauntering into an Old West saloon in a bright turquoise cowboy outfit. Elton himself was fine — frequently, in fact, very good — delivering his lines, but, sheesh, those lines… I did like the Claudette Colbert jokes during the film-critic session, though.
Hanks and Anthony each introduced musical segments featuring Elton playing dueling pianos with Leon Russell, who pounded out some fine example of what we used to call rock & roll.
What did you think of this week’s Saturday Night Live? I was entertained without actually laughing very much. Agree? Disagree?