December 19, 2010

SNL Recap: Jeff Bridges / Eminem & Lil Wayne

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Jeff Bridges, the rough-around-the-edges common man, made a somewhat unexpected comeback last year with his dark-horse Oscar hit, Crazy Heart. He had been best known for his role as the “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski.  Now, with his new Disney epic Tron: Legacy in theaters, Bridges returned to the SNL stage, where he previously stood 27 years ago in 1983.

Although not immediately known for his humor, Bridges surprised as a willing comedian, remaining both enthusiastic in characters and monologues.  What stands in the way, however, of Bridges really shining in this episode is his strikingly specific appearance; let’s face it, no matter how much the SNL costume and make-up crew attempted to twist Bridges’ outward appearance, he always remained a lovable, rough and raggedy 61-year-old man.

Cold Opening – 2010 wasn’t exactly a successful year for the Democrats or the Obama Administration, so that has the Democratic leaders wishing for a more fruitful 2011.  The political impressions came out in full force as we got to see Obama (Armisen), Clinton (Bayer), Emmanuel (Samberg), Pelosi (Wiig) and Biden (Sudeikis) each take turns standing near a window, gazing in wishful thoughts, about things like Clinton’s imaginary headline, “Obama to Hillary: Let’s Switch Jobs.”  This cold opening perfectly executed political humor in a clean and (most importantly) funny manner.

Monologue – A normal monologue quickly became a to-be YouTube sensation as Cookie Monster stumbled onstage alongside Bridges in a seasonally appropriate duet of Silver Bells.  I love that SNL is embracing, rather than ignoring, these grassroots-type campaigns, aiming to bring specific guests onto the show.  Like Betty White last season, the Cookie Monster recently hit the online campaign with a YouTube petition to appear on SNL, and a mere one month later, he was on the stage, singing with Jeff Bridges.

Message from Mark Zuckerberg – Julian Assange (Hader) is visibly pissed at his lack of worldwide recognition and respect, intercepting Mark Zuckerberg’s (Samberg) message.  Assange wants to know why he’s not Time’s Person of the Year, contrasting his organization, Wikileaks, with Facebook.  This was an unsuspectingly thought-provoking sketch that really made the audience question the legalities behind these privacy-destroying corporations.

The Miley Cyrus Show – Featured player Vanessa Bayer is quickly becoming a starlet within the cast, best known for her impression of Miley Cyrus.  As always, she played Miley perfectly with all of the Disney starlet’s scathing vocal tendencies.  However, the sketch has become repetitive, and it was largely a formulaic regurgitation of last time’s sketch with more topical issues, such as Miley’s recent bong fiasco. With an unconvincing impression (Jeff Bridges played Nolte), The Miley Cyrus Show just did not hit it out-of-the-park in this episode, as it had in the past two occurrences.

Digital Short: I Just Had Sex – What’s sure to become another viral video on the Web (think “Dick in a Box” and “Jizzed in My Pants”), “I Just Had Sex” again captured the Lonely Island’s ability to couple a catchy tune with unsuspectingly vulgar lyrics.  The Lonely Island, consisting of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, had help on this penis-worshipping rap from Akon, John McEnroe, Blake Lively and Jessica Alba – a true testament to just how big the comedic trio has become in the realms of pop culture.

Larry King Live – Fred Armisen impersonated Larry King for, perhaps, the last time on SNL – the suspender-loving talk-show host signed off of his legendary program this past week.  Tonight, he brought back some of his favorite guests, including Jermaine Jackson (Thompson), the Judd sisters (Elliott, Wiig) and Dog the Bounty Hunter (Bridges).  For me, personally, these Larry King Live sketches always feel incomplete and lazy. Tonight’s sketch was no different.

Underground Records: Crunkmas – Jason Sudeikis and Nasim Pedrad returned as spokespersons for these uber-underground festivals, this time including acts with names like “Scrotum Fire” and “Boyz II Dickz.”  Going along with the Christmas spirit, however, they’re also collecting “whack ass junk for immigrants.”

Weekend Update – A refreshingly strong Weekend Update showcased Kenan Thompson’s impression of RNC Chairman Michael Steele and newcomer Taran Killam’s impression of Brad Pitt … as Weekend Update’s new weatherman.  Although the audience seemed to love Killam’s Pitt, the impersonation itself was simply awful. However, in his defense, Brad Pitt really doesn’t have as many quirks as someone like, say, Miley Cyrus.  Abby Elliott strolled out with her impression of Angelina Jolie, reminding the audience that she was still, in fact, a member of the cast.  But the highlight of the night had to be Update’s favorite three guests, Governor David Paterson (Armisen), Stefon (Hader) and Snooki (Moynihan) entering together for a hilarious rendition of “Oh, Christmas Tree.”  Random note: Meyers made a random jab at Cornell by joking that a Harvard student committed of fraud was punished to “four years at Cornell.”  Shaking my head at you Seth Meyers – shaking, my, head.

TCM: It’s a Wonderful Life – A gentle jab at the Jews, It’s a Wonderful Life was originally meant to include Hanukah overtones, entitled, This, You Call a Wonderful Life?  This was a simple, clever idea that worked.

Jeff’d – Jumping on the Punk’d bandwagon, only a mere six years too late, Jeff Bridges hosted this incredibly lame, new show where he pranked the likes of Maggie Gyllenhaal (Elliott), Forest Whittaker (Thompson) and Billy Bob Thornton (Samberg).  This was a very nice platform for Bridges as a host, showcasing his simplistic and plain comedic style, which meshed perfectly with this sketch.

General Store – Kristen Wiig and Jeff Bridges played two offbeat gift-wrappers at a circa 1800’s general store, whose plans were to innocently foil the presents of other customers.  Of course, Wiig had the opportunity to pull out her favorite ridiculous facial expression, again.

Happy Holidays from the Kardashians – I’m a secret fan of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, so I always get a little giddy when I see them impersonated on SNL.  This did not disappoint as the last sketch of the night.  Nasim Pedrad, Abby Elliott and Vanessa Bayer reprised their roles of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney, respectively, paying homage to the holiday season, wishing a “Merry Christmas” to their fans, a “Happy Hanukah” to their agents and managers, and “Happy Kwanzaa” to their boyfriends.

Musical Guest – I’m personally not a huge fan either of Lil’ Wayne or Eminem, but if you are, I’m sure their performances would not disappoint as they angrily rapped on a stage ironically filled with poinsettias.  Together, they performed “No Love,” “Won’t Back Down” and “6 Foot 7 Foot.”

Overall Episode – A-

Along with the Anne Hathaway/Florence and the Machine episode, this episode is given the accolade as one of the season’s best so far.  Unlike the Anne Hathaway episode, however, the episode wasn’t great because of its host; it was great because it showed the cast’s strengths.  Jeff Bridges, however, did an earnest and respectable job as host.

The next two weeks will be repeats of Emma Stone/Kings of Leon and Jon Hamm/Rihanna; a new episode will return on Jan. 8 with host Jim Carrey and musical guest, The Black Keys.

Original Author: Jonathan Yuan