Prince Kills on Chris Rock’s Weird SNL

So yeah, Chris Rock and Prince! This show was hyped up to be ‘legendary!’ With these two dynamos and a great cast, it certainly had that potential. Was it?

Well…sadly no. Unfortunately, Rock and Prince had to be the duo booked when we got our first ‘off’ episode of the season. The 40th season of SNL has been very solid so far, but last night’s show definitely had a weird, ‘not yet ready for air’ vibe to it, or something. There was an amount of line flubbing, some questionable staging, and at times a near-silent audience. Chris Rock was great and gave it his best, but not always being used in the best of ways in sketches, even he couldn’t salvage the given material. Of course, these things happen, and even when they flop, it’s still amazing how much comedy they have to put together in a very short week. Still, a lot of things were tried that sadly did not work. The good news: Prince was phenomenal! (The bad news: this show really needed a second Prince song.)

On to a distraught SNL Recap…

COLD OPEN: CHRISTIE (Strong, Moynihan, McKinnon)
Bobby Moynihan is a fun Chris Christie, I’ll give him that….a.k.a. a “likeable Kevin James-type.” I’m sure Kaci Hickox didn’t expect to be an SNL parody (eh, who are we kidding…) but then, I really thought the two of them would get into an interesting fight of sorts, and the sketch just stopped. That would have been so great! Alas, this is just another safe topical cold open in which the characters (esp. Moynihan & McKinnon) give it their all, but despite a few laughs, this doesn’t make an impact.
Blackometer: 4/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/christie-cold-open-075947188.html

CHRIS ROCK MONOLOGUE (Rock)
No one should be surprised with how much Chris Rock’s stand-up here was running the gauntlet, even mentioning terrorism and getting to the Freedom Tower (by then, the crowd felt safe enough to react). Because, if you’ve ever heard his material, yeah, this is about right. But it was so true- and hilarious! Chris Rock is good at his job. Period. I would have been fine with Rock doing standup in every other sketch.
Blackometer: 8/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/chris-rock-monologue-075947755.html

VLOG (Zamata, Mooney, Rock, Pharaoh)
This was so interesting…I finally get Sasheer as the lead in a sketch, Chris Rock is old enough to play the old out-of-touch dad, and a funny, desperate Kyle Mooney youth character. This was idealistically too awkward to be laugh-out-loud funny, but it was identifiable enough to be a decent sketch. Who else had that dad who made up fake chores and compares all music to 70s soul classics? (I do wish there was a little more of Pharaoh’s embarrassed big brother…and that I could have actually seen him the first time.)
Blackometer: 7/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/vlog-075948660.html

GO-PROBE (Killam, Mooney, Bennett, McKinnon, Thompson)
Well no, I didn’t see that twist coming. Best part was easily the flashback to “your grandpa’s colonoscopy.” Second best part: “Those are polyps, son…worst I’ve ever seen.” “Sick!” “…yes.”
Blackometer: 6/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/goprobe-075948108.html

HOW’S HE DOING? (Thompson, Pharaoh, Zamata, Jones, Rock)
Hey, a sketch with five African-Americans all on together! That’s super remarkable for SNL right now. That alone should have brought enough energy for a great sketch. Sadly…the material just wasn’t there this time. The best installment was one year ago on Kerry Washington’s show. Sadly, the material here was just waiting until that final joke, which was funny…but the entire thing was a waste for what could have been way funnier. Anyway, poor Sasha & Malia.
Blackometer: 5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/39-doing-075948007.html

WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Davidson, Pharaoh, Thompson)
Pete Davidson, back again! He basically lives on Update now, legit. We’ve seen him as the “resident young person” 3 times in 5 episodes – that’s amazing. And yes, his material here is great. However, when he was fighting the character-breaking laughter, it was endearing for some reason. Che stumbled pretty tough over some lines tonight too…and never seemed to fully recover, even after gaining applause. It wasn’t hard to watch, it was just a little odd. But whatever, I laughed at another Jost ebola joke that I felt bad about, so there you go. Pharaoh & Thompson as Katt Williams & Suge Knight was fun, but nothing new or anything. Not the best Update thus far, but Davidson was great.
Blackometer: 6.7/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/weekend-part-1-075947977.html
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/weekend-part-2-075947759.html

SHARK TANK (Rock, Mooney, Bennett, McKinnon, Thompson, Killam, Bryant, Davidson, Pharaoh)
I don’t think the audience knew what to do with this any more than I did. It’s a great example of ‘interesting idea that sounds edgy’ but doesn’t go as far as it needs to go. Throwing ISIS in this already drew me in, but there was a bite to this that seemed to be missing. Plus, Chris Rock doesn’t really know how to act Middle-Eastern, going in and out of character and using his ‘Chris Rock telling a story’ hands. (To be fair, while Chris Rock is versatile, I don’t know if this was the right route for his versatility, all due respect.) Also, people on twitter noticed that he seemed to look like he realized the sketch/show wasn’t going so well by now…
Blackometer: 4.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/shark-tank-075947049.html

SWIFTAMINE (Killam, Rock, Strong, Bennett, Thompson, Bayer, Jones, Bryant)
So, is this a defense of people who listen to/like Taylor Swift’s music? I had to watch this again to fully appreciate it, but I’m sure it’s what Swift’s version of The Beygency would have you take. Out of a few good jokes, the best part was Leslie Jones in that tutu, worth the price of admission.
Blackometer: 6.3/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/swiftamine-075947339.html

THE COUPLE (Rock, Jones, Moynihan, Zamata)
…ooookay. At first this felt like a sitcom couple argument from the 70s/80s and I was into the dialogue. Then, Leslie Jones had a major flub (as far as we know), walking out, then walking back in, looking confused for what felt like forever in live show time. I’m not sure what happened (maybe a last-minute writing or directing change threw things off) but matched with the lack of laughter, it really threw things off. The entire thing felt underrehearsed, and I wasn’t even sure what the point was until Sasheer Zamata walked in. The result is, I’m not sure what this sketch was really supposed to be, but man, I wish I knew.
I’m pretty sure the online version here is not the live version that aired, but likely the dress rehearsal version, or at least an edit without Jones stumbling back onstage. However, my grade is based on what I saw live:
Blackometer: 2.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/couple-075947524.html

ROBBERS (Bennett, Mooney, Moynihan, McKinnon, Zamata, Bryant, Thompson, Killam)
I appreciate the weirdness of this sketch more so than anything that aired post-Update. It didn’t even make me laugh all that much – I just appreciated it more. However, it was pointed out on twitter that this sketch was recorded another week and has been in waiting from that dress rehearsal. In other words…there was some last-minute change. (Like, the second Prince song that we unfortunately didn’t get?) Anyway, this was fine. At least Beck Bennett & Kyle Mooney had a nice night.
Blackometer: 6.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/robbers-075948841.html

WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE (McKinnon, Strong, Bayer, Rock, Bryant, Killam, Pharaoh, Bennett)
By now, it felt like the cast was just trying to get through this odd, odd night. However, this was still funny. Good lord, Kate McKinnon was good in this. Vanessa Bayer, even flubbing her line (like many of her fellow cast members tonight), was also great. She now owns the final esoteric sketch of the night slot this season.
Blackometer: 6.7/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/women-workplace-075947488.html

Best Sketch of the Night: Chris Rock Monologue
Worst Sketch of the Night: The Couple
Joke of the Night“We had a horrible Jesus’ birthday this year; hopefully business will pick up by His crucifixion.” – Chris Rock, as an economist on the Christmas season
Runner Up: “I sent a picture of my penis to my mom because she’s a nurse…she said ‘there’s definitely something wrong – you’re sending me pictures of your penis, what’s wrong with you? I’m a school nurse!” – Pete Davidson
Observations: At the end of the night, all of us took to twitter, upset about how ‘off’ tonight’s episode was. However, I’m more disappointed than upset, just because the stars that seemed to be aligned fell through the same trap any lackluster episode falls through: lacking (albeit forgettable) material, under-rehearsed moments, last-minute changes, and so on. In other words, these things happen. It wouldn’t been the same live show if changes weren’t made. (And there’s been FAR worse shows w/terrible hosts.) So while I could live without much of what I saw last night, they still had a good host, I still think what these talented people do every week is amazing (even to see something flop) and I’m holding out high hopes for the next show.

Again, Prince was fantastic: https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/prince-clouds-marz-another-love-080041842.html

BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 5.75

Next time: Woody Harrelson & Kendrick Lamar (oddest pairing yet this season to be sure, but I’m holding out for a better overall show.)

-BB2

Bill Hader: 6.91
Jim Carrey: 6.80
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
Chris Pratt: 6.54
Chris Rock: 5.75

 

Advertisements

Grown Ups: Terrible, Bland, or Charming?


Grown Ups
(2010)
Full confession: I hadn’t watched this movie until this month to review it just for the heck of it, and I went into it expecting it to be pretty stupid. I was…sort of right?

Adam Sandler and the Happy Gilmore film company have a track record of making films in the 200s that were usually filled with overly crass humor matched with no substance or likability. Grown Ups certainly isn’t as bad as other installments such as Jack and Jill – there’s actually a bit of charm to be found here! – but is it worth it?

SUMMARY
Five friends learn that their school basketball coach from 30 years ago passed away, and they all bring their families to honor him at their funeral. They all spend the weekend at a lodge to revel in their childhood nostalgia while learning that times have definitely changed since they were kids. Sandler covers up parts of his wealth and success, such as his nanny and his disdain for how spoiled the children have become. Rock is a housewife who doesn’t feel respected by his wife or family. James’ 4-year-old son won’t stop breastfeeding…oh, and he’s fat. Spade…is a drunken, lonely wiseguy hiding behind jokes. And Ron Schneider is married to his new wife: a vegan old bag.

WHAT WORKS

  1. Interaction with the Kids – The scene where the kids made cup phones was the first truly touching moment in the movie, for obvious reasons. It was like something out of a commercial for “take our product so you can live a longer life and be around for your children” and I mean that in the nicest way. It was kind of neat to see a few spoiled, bratty kids turn into a few appreciative, brave, “let’s experience life a little” kids. – and this, ladies and gentlemen, was where the true charm of Grown Ups truly took place.
  2. Kevin James’ Breastfeeding Son– You know, it’s weird…I didn’t expect this kid to grow on me. For the longest in this movie, he creeped me out like no other. Yet somehow, his cute kid delivery of lines like “mommy, can I try her milk?” eventually won me over. It’s messed up, I know, but what can I say? Kids get away with the darnedest things.
  3. Steve Buscemi – Okay, I have NO idea what Steve was doing here, but boy, was he such a delight. Sometimes it’s actually pretty fun to have that one random character who’s only there to be a different type of goof than the main characters. I almost want a “Wiley’s Playhouse” series. In other news, it was nice (but almost equally random) to see Tim Meadows baldly shouting “boo-yah!” (yes, ‘baldly.’)
  4. Rob Schneider – I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to like Rob Schneider’s character. I had the mentality of “here come Rob Schendier playing another eccentric weirdo for laughs but it won’t be very funny” when the reality was, we all knew (and may have been friends with) this person in school. And yes, the person I knew like this in high school may very easily marry an older woman and make questionable performance choices at a funeral. Plus, it helps that this feels like a more understated Rob Schneider character (even with that nearly offensive Ave Maria performance).

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

  1. Action – The biggest problem, really, is just that the movie isn’t that interesting. I can barely remember the few times when I actually laughed or even came close. At least at some point, the kids became charming. There wasn’t as much shock humor as you would see in a typical 2000s Adam Sandler movie (yes, even with an arrow going through Rob Schneider’s foot), so nothing really stuck out in either a good or bad way. Maybe it’s because I’m starting to grow immune to much more memorable shenanigans in these Sandler films, but it really just felt like a lot of it was “there.” Oh hey, Rob Schneider has two oblivious attractive, daughters and one sweet, Meg Griffin-looking one. Okay. Oh look, David Spade’s naked behind. Cool. Even the breastfeeding mom accidentally hitting Maya Rudolph didn’t do much for me. (Though, don’t let me be around if this happens in real life.)
  2. Kevin James Fat Jokes – You know, Kevin James really isn’t all that big of a guy. It’s pretty lame that all of the jokes directed at this guy (who doesn’t seem to be doing that bad in life other than having a family that’s kind of…off) are simply reduced to a bunch of “oh he’s a big fat guy and he eats, see its funny” jokes. Not even the first one with him breaking the family pool was funny. It gets worse when he starts making fun of himself as if that’s all he can use to make pleasant conversation. “Let’s order 17 hamburgers and 17 fries…that’s all for me, what about the rest of you?”
  3. Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph & Suga Mama – Here’s my problem with this generally “normal” family of characters: they aren’t funny. And I know that’s subjective, but come on – you have Chris Rock, one of the funniest comedians on the planet, as a main character in a movie in which 85% of his jokes run out the door as soon as he says them. And why doesn’t the guy have a job??? And Maya Rudolph is usually either an over-the-top character for laughs (remember her Whitney Houston?) or a little more understated (Bridesmaids) but still funny. Here, a lot of her jokes don’t quite hit either. And Suga Mama (yes, that’s what I’ve named her) is more annoying than funny. It’s like Sandler took what he thought was a funny stereotype of an old black woman, gave it some bunions & farts and said it’ll work. At least she didn’t sing a negro spiritual (this is the only time I’ll ever say that.)
  4. The Jokes – Yeah, a lot of these don’t necessarily work. Or, they do, but they’re not funny enough to be memorable past a few seconds. The result is, I don’t really remember much of what I’m writing about, to be honest. It’s just sad how many genuinely funny people are involved in the main cast and how little comedy actually happened. Many of the passing one-liners felt like cutting-room floor material for a forgettable SNL sketch – not a movie.
  5. Characters – Sadly, as much as I started wanting to know these characters a little better, they either aren’t that memorable or the actors are just playing themselves. Adam Sandler is just playing Adam Sandler, but a “yeah, I’m a dad now and I’m starting to get old, but I can still have a little fun” Adam Sandler. Chris Rock is very obviously Chris Rock, but watered down and given lame jokes that should have been saved for the guy opening for his standup show. Otherwise, Sandler’s wife (Salma Hayek) isn’t very memorable, Kevin James wife is based in one joke…I was about to tell you which characters they actually want you to remember, but this movie is so forgettable, that I forgot right after I started typing that sentence.

CONCLUSION
It’s strange, because this isn’t as bad of a movie as I thought it would be. It’s also not that great or memorable. Originally, my complaint halfway through the movie was that I felt more like I was watching other people joke around and have a good time from the sides, not being in on the joke, rather than enjoying the good times with them. But then the move the kids and the family started to connect, the charm of the characters started to come through and I slowly started to care about what happens to them. But other than a couple of eventually charming moments, it’s a story we’ve seen before watered down with some nuances and jokes you’ll forget about pretty soon. I do like that it was simple enough in its’ premise; I just wish that the execution would have taken things a little further. What else is there to say? It wasn’t a movie trying to be as edgy as possible; it’s just a little 90-minute thing for you to laugh at for a bit (except you might not laugh that much).

BLACKOMETER: 5/10

Let me know what you think!
-BB2

(And NO. I DO NOT feel like reviewing the unwarranted Grown Ups 2.)

Movies Kevin Hart Should Have Been In

kevin hart
So let’s face it: Kevin Hart is having an exceptional year. He’s transitioned from standup comedian to America’s favorite funny man to beloved comedian to that guy who’s in EVERY movie coming out in 2014. Like, every movie. (No, seriously. He stunt-doubled in Maleficent as the crow the first time we meet him. Go watch it again.) Whether or not the films he was in were successful (Think Like a Man) or not (Soul Plane), the rising stardom and success of Kevin Hart is undeniably fantastic. His latest standup Let Me Explain created the second hardest laughter I’ve experienced within the last year. And his presence in recent movies like Ride Along and such, he escalated the movie’s humor gigantically with his joke, strong writing, and a personality larger than his…well, height.
Ride_Along_poster
You get the point. Kevin Hart is awesome. And EVERYWHERE.

SO everywhere, in fact…that I wonder how other crappy movies would have been saved if they would have gave Kevin Hart a call! Think about it. If your favorite flimsy film had harrowed some Hart humor, it’s suckiness shant have survived. Therefore, in lieu of the release of Think Like a Man Too, I’d like to take a look at lackluster movies and explore how K-Hart would have made them better!

  1. Love Don’t Cost a Thing
    Of the films I’ve reviewed this year, this one is my LEAST favorite. The worst quote is the athlete bully yelling at Nick Cannon’s friends during the game to leave their seats (apparently “for cool kids only”). He says “LOSERS TO THE LEFT!” and it is at this moment, when no one stops him, that there are NO adults in the movie making these loser children be accountable for their actions. Insert Kevin Hart as the basketball coach, who would have gone up to the bully to put him in check.
    HART: Hey! Boy, get back on the court! What you think this is?!
    BULLY (to ‘geek’): Get off our seats! LOSERS TO THE LEFT!
    HART: (to bully) No – Losers back on the court! What are you doing, boy!? Get back to the game! I got money on this, young playa!
    stop it
  2. Fat Albert
    I’d say he could have been the replacement Omarion. You know, instead of having Omarion “trying to be the antagonist”, we could have just had Kevin Hart as another schoolmate or something, a buddy or Kyla Pratt who told some jokes along the way. Even if it was a few throwaway fat jokes, him doing it would’ve made us all forget about Russell’s stupid junkyard backplot easier.
    "Nobody makes a fool out of Reggie...except for Reggie!"
  3. Fighting Temptations
    How great would it have been if K-Hart was in the choir, sang TERRIBLY, but they had to keep him because it turned out he was Lilly’s (Beyonce) cousin and she would only stay if Darrin (Cuba Gooding Jr.) kept him? SO many great moments would have come from this. Because as we all know, in every choir, there’s always that ONE guy.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjCfvwg8TsE
  4. Batman & Robin
    We all know this movie sucks. Maybe Kevin Hart could have been Mr. Freeze’s sidekick who put him in check for all those bad ice puns.
  5. Shark Tale
    Kevin Hart as the annoying shrimp. Self-Explanatory? Yes. Stupid? Yes. Hilarious still? Heck yes.

    "Say hello to my little friend, MITCHES!"

    “Say hello to my little friend, MITCHES!”

  6. Training Day
    Just because of the explanation of his SNL audition doing how he thought this movie should have gone. I mean, come on!
  7. Space Jam
    How great would it have been if instead of Bill Murray showing up at the end, Kevin Hart comes in, tries to steal scoring the winning basket, has this huge slow-mo where he’s in the air, and he misses? Then he’s just standing there blankly like “uh…wait wait wait, lemme get another shot, I was just getting warmed up!”
  8. Bebe’s Kids
    Hart would’ve have put up with that mess. He’s a better father than that.
    kevin hart kids
  9. Grown Ups 2
    When not even Chris Rock can save your movie (bad writing withstanding), your movie has a problem. Perhaps trading David Spade for Kevin Hart and letting him & Rock spar off would have brought in more laughs and definitely a wider audience.
  10. THE WIZ
    Yes, I’m still pulling for the fact that Kevin Hart needs to play the Lion. Do I even need to explain?

What other films do you think need a heaping helping of Hart? Drop some comments and let me know! Here’s to more Hart-enduced laughter this year and for more to come.

-BB2

P.S. This is my FAVORITE Kevin Hart standup joke: (from Let Me Explain)