Full disclosure — I really wanted to like Chris Pratt on SNL. He has all the right ingredients to succeed on a show like Saturday Night Live, but, unfortunately, no one thought to give him great physical comedy that he could sink his teeth into. While it wasn’t a terrible opener for the 40th season, it wasn’t exactly the punch I thought it would pack. The show as a whole felt uneven, and for the most part, the sketches were banking on Pratt’s new Guardians status and not his natural knack for comedy. While his Guardians success did give the show a solid sketch to play with, throughout the show it seemed as though much of what Pratt is good at doing with comedy was largely ignored.
Here are a few noteworthy sketches I did enjoy from SNL’s season opener.
In the past, a lot of shows ride on the opener’s energy. It isn’t easy to turn a show around when the opener is stale. Thankfully, in Pratt’s case, it wasn’t a complete disaster, but it was obvious to see that he was extremely nervous, through his jittery nature and flubbing of lines. Fortunately, this is what makes him endearing on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, so, if anything, it was true to form for Pratt. Also, everyone loves a good musical interlude, and this one was adorable because the actor had his wife Anna Faris in the front row to sing to. That said, if he didn’t have amazing chemistry with Faris, this would have been a forgettable opening.
Imagine Toy Story’s beloved action figures coming to life with a severe learning curve, and you have “Alive Toys.” Words like “cake” and “sister” are beyond their comprehension, but quickly, Taran Killam’s Lion-O and Chris Pratt’s He-Man discover that cake and sister are very enjoyable for completely different reasons. As far as physical comedy goes, this is the best we’re getting from Pratt, and that’s what makes it a true highlight. What we end up with is Pratt and Killam covered in cake and touching themselves inappropriately in front of Danny, who is hilariously disgusted and terrified by his toys.
Marvel Can’t Fail!
This sketch killed for me in the best of ways. I knew this sketch was inevitable since Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy essentially bagged Pratt the SNL gig, it exceeded my expectations. Saturday Night Live managed to make the best swipes at Marvel’s ability to succeed with any movie they put out, regardless of the ridiculous premise. In turn, SNL’s team came up with fictional upcoming Marvel movies featuring Blue Swede’s “Hooked On A Feeling.” The sketch plays the rules of “the game” very well in this specific world, making the premise of each upcoming Marvel film more ridiculous than the last. For example, the sketch centered on the worst would-be heroes alive with Creatures of The Cosmos (Pratt saving the world as a pastry chef), and “Bus People” (ordinary people pulled off of a bus to save the world), so by the time Aidy Bryant showed up to save the world as just some lady named “Pam,” I was howling.
If there was any portion of last night’s opener that people were going to pay close attention to, it was last night’s Weekend Update. Seeing as how powerful this segment was, it’s easy to say that executive producer Lorne Michaels was counting on putting new players Michael Che and Pete Davidson to the test and results were overwhelmingly positive. The absence of Cecily Strong as co-anchor wasn’t felt as Michaels decided to include Strong in the segment as her old character “That Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party.” It was an old trick, but it was one I personally missed from Cecily. Everyone was interested to see how The Daily Show’s Michael Che would do while paired with head writer Colin Jost, who before this pairing was forgettable and lacked the certain magic that Seth Meyers had while in the seat. Colin Jost tweaked his timing, and because he wasn’t horrible, I would call him a major improvement as co-anchor. Still, compared to the people that came before him, he still needs major work on his timing. Che started off nervous with a flub, but he killed it towards the later half.
The real star of Weekend Update, and of the night, goes to featured player Pete Davidson, who made a fantastic appearance on the segment and basically stole the show. His timing was impeccable as he explained scenarios where it would be okay for a man to perform oral sex on another one. From his confident delivery to his awkward twitches, Davidson reminds me a lot of early Adam Sandler during his time on Saturday Night Live.
There’s always a sketch that I look for that shines through as a viral hit, and if there was any from last night’s SNL, it came later in the night in Girls Night. It features Chris Pratt and Aidy Bryant having a bros and gals night out. The two are into each other instantly, and because they don’t know how to relate to each other and start a normal conversation, they break away from their group of friends and rap raunchy lyrics in place of flirting. In many ways, it speaks to this generations oddly placed bluster, thanks to hip hop songs. What clinches this one is the running dialogue from their group of friends, especially Cecily Strong’s observation that Bryant is putting too much emphasis on her ass in her raps. Pratt showed off his oddly impressive rap skills and did his best Ying Yang Twins impression. This sketch simply slayed the night.
Next week is host Sarah Silverman and musical guest Maroon 5.