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September 3, 2015

Review: Saturday Night Live - James Franco/Muse

by Annie Wu, posted Dec 20th 2009 12:50PM
james franco muse snl
I hope you all rolled a towel against the crack of the door before watching James Franco host. This was the most I've laughed at an episode in quite a while, but I am still not entirely sure if it's because watching for ninety minutes gave me a bit of a contact high. Okay, even if you argue that I'm inferring a lot because bits of Pineapple Express are still lingering in my brain, there's no denying Franco was definitely extra-squinty, extra-grinny, and was half-slurring, half-spitting his speech through most of the night.

There was also a lot of making out. No man, woman or tree was safe. Or bong, I guess. Maybe.

This was one of those few episodes where there was a clear willingness to be weird within the writing and a host that can pull off weird. It's a magic combination. Franco did wonderfully and worked really well with the rest of the cast (in some cases, maybe too well). I think the show knew that too, because they wasted no time bringing on Franco, throwing him right into the Lawrence Welk cold open.

Of course, this episode was not without its flaws, but I definitely think it's my favorite from the season so far. I guess they had to work extra-hard for the last installment of the decade.


Bobby Moynihan: I just wanted to take a second to once again mention how great Bobby Moynihan is. I swear, tthis isn't even like when I was obsessed with Jimmy Fallon when I was a teen, just because I thought he was super-cute (embarrassing, I know). Moynihan takes any character he gets and runs with it and makes it likable. I think if anyone else played Jersey Shore's Snookie on "Weekend Update," it would have been unbearable, but Moynihan made it great (almost as much as Bill Hader's back-abs made it terrifying).I hope he sticks around the cast for a long time.

All right, side-note, but this is important. I don't watch Jersey Shore and I hope never have to, but for the love of God, could someone please explain how this photo happened? Do I have to call Mr. Feeney?

What Up With That: Oh, I still laugh at this sketch, I won't lie. It functions well within its formula and allows enough room for fresh ridiculousness (tiny Kenans this week). 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer was a fun face to see for a few moments; I liked that even his disappointed face includes a toothy grin. And Jason Sudeikis? That's one mesmerizing bastard in a tracksuit. See below for more thoughts on this sketch.

The Kissing Family: Ahh, I thought we were done with this after Paul Rudd had his go with the family! I would like to know which cast member had a big enough crush on Franco to submit this sketch again. Bill Hader, I'm looking at you! I saw that kiss. We all did. The only other kiss that came even close to topping that ridiculously lengthy one between with Hader was the one between Franco and Forte, just because of how ridiculously sloppy it was. I loved how the entire audience groaned when the grandparents walked in; they knew what they were in for.

SNL Digital Short: Tizzle Wizzle Show! A perfect balance between horrifying and hilarious, which seemed to be a recurring theme through this episode. It was like a mish-mash of Yo Gabba Gabba! and Battle Royale, which is something I didn't know I wanted to exist but apparently do. Also, everyone instantly looks more adorable in jammy sets.

Vincent Price: Yes! The Vincent Price specials rarely fail. Hader is perfection as Price, and Wiig is always welcome as the over-energetic Hepburn. Franco dropped in to play James Dean, which was way more predictable and not nearly as hilarious as something unexpected like Jon Hamm as James Mason. What happened with Liberace and James Dean was not quite so expected. Everyone wants a piece of Franco tonight.


Manuel Ortiz Show: It was funny for, like, the first minute. And then I just stared blankly at Franco's mustache for the rest of the sketch.

Mike Tyson talking about existentialism: Tyson, you were a funny guy in The Hangover, but you can stop now. You don't have to put yourself through this! You don't need to read things anymore.

Jerry: I demand to know two things: Who keeps writing these? And who keeps digging up Rob Corddry's old hair for Will Forte?


Lawrence Welk Show: When the girls popped up onscreen, I thought it was really cute how it was Kristen Wiig and then all of the new girls. And then I realized that those are the only girls on the show. I'm a fan of Wiig, but, at this point, I'm starting to feel like we're overloading. They'd better even out the appearances or even her fans will get sick of seeing her. That said, I still laughed out loud when she started eating snow with her tiny hands. You got me this time, Wiig.

Monologue: It was cool of Franco to bring up that photo of him sleeping in class. I remember the gossip sites getting a good laugh out of that when it first made its rounds on the Internet. The audience reaction to the fake movie was also quite cute. It was around this point in the episode that I started to notice Franco looked a lot like the way I do when I'm outdoors without my sunglasses for long periods of time, and he wasn't just making that face for his smoking jacket-ed Lawrence Welk character.

Fraternity: A simple but effective, really funny idea. "Where do the tiny people go, and are they okay?" This has the potential to be a recurring sketch, I'm sure, but I really hope they don't bring these guys back. It was perfect the way it ended.

Weekend Update: Jokes weren't spectacular, but, again, Moynihan as Snookie was great. Armisen and Wiig were also fun to watch, but only to see Armisen and Wiig struggle through songs together and not because those characters were genuinely able to hold my attention.

Christmas Tree: Weird. Kind of funny, but just mainly weird. By the end of this sketch, I started questioning whether or not I had made out with Franco at some point in the evening.

Mark Wahlberg: This was the best when it first appeared and the real Wahlberg did it. Since then, it hasn't been particularly funny. I was also suddenly filled with anxiety when Samberg started chit-chatting really close to that reindeer. Man, do you not see those antlers super-close to your eyeballs? Seriously, one buck of the head...

How much fun did it look like Franco had in the green room?
Quite a bit.216 (51.6%)
C'mon, that's just the way Franco acts.127 (30.3%)
Whoa. Wait. What?76 (18.1%)

[Watch episodes and clips of Saturday Night Live and other shows over at SlashControl.]

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Axel Harris

Turns out, Bill Hader did write the kissing sketch. Said so on Jimmy Fallon last night.

January 05 2010 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Uh... and what of Muse?

December 20 2009 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Professor Zed

I would have liked to have watched the same SNL that you saw. I watched a repeat - or what certainly seemed to be a repeat. The Lawrence Welk sketch - done it before exactly the same. The Kissing Family - done it before exactly the same. What's Up With That - done it before exactly the same. Mark Walberg - done it before exactly the same. There's nothing wrong with bringing back MEMORABLE characters/sketches - but to add nothing new to those characters/sketches and repeat exactly what was done prior, highlights a lack of talent in the writers and cast.

The Vincent Price Sketch - done it before HOWEVER, there was new stuff in there that made the bit work. Some really funny material!

Bobby Moynihan and the word "great" in the same sentence in the above review? What are you on?

The fraternity sketch was funny. The "Dildo for Christmas" sketch was awful and should have been cut to allow more time at the end for the cast to stand on stage and hug each other.

Weekend Update needs help. I think Seth undertakes too much work on this and it's showing. He needs someone to bounce things off and trade-off with like Amy. And they need to stop bringing in so many "special guests" to the Update desk. The news always gets dragged down by seriously unfunny bits like that.

The Manuel Ortiz Show - Time to clip my toenails. Much more funny than what was on screen.

The Christmas Tree Lot sketch - Just didn't work.

The Jammies sketch - really sick and really funny!

James Franco certainly lit up every bit he was in. (Even if he couldn't see how much he lit it up, what with those eyes practically slammed shut throughout the proceedings. He's a talented guy though.)

Oh, and this wasn't the last SNL of the decade. That won't happen until Christmas of 2010. (Wasn't that lesson learned back in 2000/2001?)

December 20 2009 at 6:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Professor Zed's comment

I agree with every single plus and minus you had with the show. Thumbs up sir.

December 20 2009 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was the last show of the decade, with how we as a society refer to decades (since a "decade" can really refer to any 10-year period). The 2000/2001 thing was in distinguishing a millennium, and part of the ordinal vs. cardinal argument.

I would surmise that nobody says the 40s were 1941-1950, or the 70s were 1971-1980. It's general convention that for decades, it starts in the "0" year and goes to the "9" year. The 90s were 1990-1999 and the 00s are 2000-2009.

If you want to get super-technical, this was the last SNL of the 00s (what most would refer to as "the decade"), but the Christmas 2010 show will be the last SNL of the 1st decade of the 21st century.

Yes, I'm a nerd.

December 21 2009 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cress d

Very good SNL. I loved the Welk skit, but it pales in comparison to the original one with "bubbles". "What Up With That" is a good recurring skit, but it needs to be expanded a little. Its nice to see it, but not if its a carbon-copy of the previous skits. SNL Digital Short was really good--odd and unexpected. Honestly, I don't know why SNL can't produce better material for a 90-minute show. But still, it was 100% better than last weeks' episode.

December 20 2009 at 5:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

> "I hope he [Bobby Moynihan] sticks around the cast for a long time."

Where else would he go? Seriously?

Compared to last week's episode, this week's was stellar, but that's not saying much.

The Ryan Reynolds episode is still the best of the season -- so far.

December 20 2009 at 2:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Gunter

I wonder how much of SNLs target audience knows who Lawrence Welk and Vincent Price are or have ever seen much of their work.And a Lawrence Welk sketch as the open?Come on...where's the health care situation,Copenhagen,Lieberman etc?

December 20 2009 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great review! I totally agree about the making out and the squintiness, I liked both though, so it was all cool.

I missed the cold open and am now heartbroken.

Vincent Price, Weekend Update and The Kissing Family were my favourite sketches for sure.

December 20 2009 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kenan still does sketches from All That. Which brings up a good point... NBC and Nickelodeon should team to bring back All That and Kenan & Kel as mid-lifetime replacecements of SNL.

December 20 2009 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Gunter

To each his or her own but your reviews never really match anyone else's.SNL should hire you as a PR person.This episodes was mildly more laughable at best.The short and the cold open sucked.They really weren't funny.I keep wondering why I waste 90 minutes on SNL.It's lost it's edge and isn't anything like it once was as far as being a voice or a commentary on things.It has become "let's act silly to get laughs" and can't even do that well.

December 20 2009 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to David Gunter's comment

Besides election years and the odd sketch here and there, when has SNL been anything but overly-silly since 1988? And before that, it was still mostly silly-above-biting commentary. That's just how the show has always been for the most part, for better or worse.

December 21 2009 at 8:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ellen Higgins

I thought that James Franco was a great SNL host. He's
seems to be up for anything. Thumbs up.

December 20 2009 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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