When the 2016 Oscar nominations were announced nearly two weeks ago, the response to the overwhelmingly white line-up of talent proved instantly controversial. Film fans and industry veterans alike gathered around the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag to make their voices heard, especially decrying how films starring black actors and directed by black filmmakers — like Creed and Straight Outta Compton — somehow managed to only receive nominations for the white people involved in making them. With material this ripe, of course SNL was going to take a swipe at the Academy Awards this week.
The moment former Alaskan governor and 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump for President of the United States, you know the producers at SNL hurried to get Tina Fey on the phone. The beloved former cast member, who just hosted the show last month, famously took on the role of Palin eight years ago and many people believe that her scathing imitation actually did lasting harm to the real Palin’s political chances. In any case, this event allowed SNL to pair Fey’s Palin with Darrell Hammond‘s Trump. Thanks, reality!
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Adam Driver hosting 2016’s first episode of SNL, a Kylo Ren sketch of some kind was inevitable. After all, you don't get the actor who plays the villain in one of the biggest movies of all time to appear on your comedy variety show and not have him reprise that character. And we'll give the show this much: we never would have predicted a faux episode of Undercover Boss set on Starkiller Base, with the angry, murderous Kylo Ren going undercover amongst his troops as a radar technician named Matt.
It took Avatar two and half months to become the highest grossing movie of all time. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will surpass its domestic box office gross within the next day or two after less than three weeks in release. The big question now is when J.J. Abrams’ sequel will find its ceiling because as of right now, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was always going to make enough money to make most blockbusters tremble in fear. That was inevitable. It’s a Star Wars movie. The big question lingering over this opening weekend concerned whether or not it’s surely enormous opening weekend would break the records set by Jurassic World earlier this year. And now, with the early estimates in, we can answer that question: yes and no.
It’s a testament to the staying power of certain public figures that they’ve been played by more than one SNL cast member over the years. People like Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady turned former Senator turned former Secretary of State turned current Democratic Presidential frontrunner, linger on long past Saturday Night Live cast rotations. So what is the show to do when one of its guest hosts used to play a vital and very much in the public eye politician back in the day? Put her on stage with the current version, of course.
Dual guest hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler brought a lot of magic to last night’s episode of SNL, but the former cast members and Sisters co-stars probably hit their peak with a sort-of-music-video about their “Dope Squad,” aka the team of perfectly ordinary people who make their lives better on a daily basis. And while they may be wearing tight leather outfits, wielding weapons, and posing dramatically in front of post-apocalyptic imagery, the subject matter is far more mundane…and then Amy Schumer shows up.
SNL commercial parodies are at their best when they’re at their most scathing. The fake ad for a fictional dating app called Settl may not be as dark as that vicious, pro-gun parody from a while back, but it’s a different brand of cynical: Here is the app for people who are tired of trying to find the right person and just want to settle down with, well, any person.
While traditional live sketches are still the backbone of any given episode, modern SNL is frequently at its best in the pre-recorded segments. The past few years have seen an interesting evolution as the silly “digital shorts” of a decade ago have matured into full-blown filmmaking, with sketches that feel more like short films than just a comedy bit. Last night’s Ryan Gosling-hosted episode peaked with a pre-recorded sketch titled “Santa Baby,” which let both SNL and Gosling himself turn the weird up to 11.
Once families finished feasting on Thanksgiving, they had several options: continue enjoying each other’s company in the privacy of their own home, brave the crowds in search of deals at the retail store of their choice, or nip any potential argument over politics in the bud by heading out to the movies. Option three was apparently a popular one this year, as the overall top 10 for the week was the healthiest it has been in awhile, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 fending off The Good Dinosaur and Creed, which still performed well.
As expected, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 topped the box office charts this weekend. But like the war in the movie itself, it all feels like something of a hollow victory. That may seem like a weird thing to say about a movie that broke $100 million in its opening weekend, but this is a new low for the series’ box office receipts…and it’s not even close.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens less than a month away from release and anticipation reaching a feverish level unseen in movie fans since 1999, the timing is right for SNL to gently skewer the upcoming sequel. The sketch is really just an excuse for the cast to break out a bunch of impersonations they’ve obviously been keeping in their back pockets while letting them interact with actual Star Wars cast members, but c’mon, that’s all the excuse you need, really.
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