There were 14 sketches in this weekend's lively Zooey Deschanel-hosted "SNL," including the Opening Monologue and three-part commercial series. Of those 14, at least nine were keepers, while the other five ranged from pointless ("We're Going to Make Technology Hump") to obnoxious ("CRABBBBS"). For "SNL," 9 out of 14 isn't a bad ratio (and most of the terrible sketches were buried in the second half), which is why this cameo-heavy episode was one of the best of the season.
One of the reasons why it was so good: the writers didn't make it "silly." It would have been easy for an episode hosted by Zooey, lover of all things sparkly and pretty and vintage, to be centered on "adorkable" and "quirky." But with the exception of the subpar monologue, the episode mostly restrained itself from the obvious. Even "Bein' Quirky with Zooey Deschanel," the sketch I most dreaded, was wisely placed in the post-Weekend Update slot and found a clever way of making fun of Zooey's polarizing persona. And she looks like Blossom!
But even surprise appearances from Nicolas Cage and the French Jon Hamm, Jean Dujardin, couldn't make up for Karmin. Every time the singer rapped, a little part of me died, not unlike the rodent that rested on her head.
We get it, "SNL." Mitt Romney is stiff, robotic, and cold. The only thing that saves this sketch from the other 12,385 just like it is the dog. He's quite the handsome bastard.
Too often Nasim Pedrad is cast as a young child or old lady, so I always like when she's able to play someone her age, like MIA or later, Arianna Huffington. She's a gifted impressionist, though Kristen Wiig's Madonna steals this sketch. The accent's spot-on.
"SNL" hasn't had the greatest success with multiple-part gags of late (remember Glenda Okones?), but these Clint Eastwood pimping for Chrysler spoofs were great, each one more ridiculous than the one before it. Hader's ridiculously talented, and someone saying, "I'm Batman" is never not funny. Ditto old people with their pants pulled high.
I'm seeing double here — four Nicolas Cages! This was the obvious highlight of the night, and one of the best sketches of the season. "[Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance] is not to be missed, for it has the two key qualities of a Nic Cage action film: number one, all the dialogue is either whispered or screamed; and of course number two, everything in the movie is on fire."
One thing: people used to poop on Jimmy Fallon all the time for laughing — why doesn't Seth Meyers ever get called out for the same thing? I get that it's tough not to laugh at Double Cage, but there's something off-putting about a head writer laughing at his own jokes, while Cage and Andy Samberg remain in character. It comes across equal parts arrogant and unprofessional, and he nearly ruins the Declaration of Independence joke. And that's the true meaning of Black History Month.
But where's Uggie?!?
This was the sketch where Zooey played most against type; it was also one of my favorites. It'd be easy to cast her as a fast-talker from the 1940s — it's funnier to have her play someone who can't keep up with fast talkers from the 1940s. Sudeikis and Wiig do a fine job of never tripping over the rapid-paced, screwball comedy-like dialogue, and Bobby Moynihan's reckless typing reminds me of when Kramer was on "Murphy Brown."
Michael Cera is just hipster Mickey Mouse.
This was bad in a different way than Lana Del Rey was bad — I'm tempted to say it was worse. Karmin steals many styles (1940s looks, 1990s swagger, 2010s pop), and does NONE of them well. There's nothing original about the group; they're the kind of act that people who enjoy them now will wonder "WTF were we thinking" in, oh, three years. It was embarrassing for white people everywhere.