November 11, 2012

THE SKED REVIEW: SNL With Anne Hathaway


Anne Hathaway has been one of the most versatile of recent SNL hosts, and in her third stint tonight, the show used her heavily, featuring her in everything but the cold open, Update and a brief pre-taped commercial parody.  The material, alas, wasn’t often up to her level, and in what’s been a heavily frontloaded SNL season (7 new episodes in 9 weeks), the writing is getting visibly tired.

A good–which is to say, mediocre–example was tonight’s Homeland parody.  Hathaway threw herself into character as Claire Danes, all popping eyes and abrupt mood swings, Bill Hader was borderline inspired as Mandy Patinkin, and there were other good ideas (daughter Dana just wandered into the top-secret CIA installation, obsessing over her dad), but the sketch went nowhere, with no point of view about Homeland or even any seeming grasp of its appeal.  Hathaway does a downright devastating Katie Holmes (a bit she’d played in an earlier hosting gig), but it was thrown away tonight at the tail end of an Ellen parody that mostly proved Kate McKinnon’s sharp Ellen bit from last month’s Bond Girls sketch should have stayed where it was.  (Hathaway, incidentally, proved her nice-girl reputation by making a point of thanking Danes and Holmes in her goodnights at the end of the show.)

There were some high points.  The pre-taped “The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish” was… well, I’m not sure what it was, but it was visually arresting and certainly original, with Taran Killiam making addicts of those who saw him do his strange dance, chief among them Hathaway.  A cable access show hosted by teen girls worked extremely well and earned its post-monologue slot, with Aidy Bryant a standout as the co-host who discovers on air that best friend Cecily Strong has a new and cooler bestie (Hathaway), who, among other things, shops at Forever 21 instead of Skirt Wearhouse.  (Bryant bitterly notes that they’re “the kind of clothes dead women are found in.”)  There wasn’t much to a sketch about the way the initially genial models for “American Gothic” eventually got to their iconic pose, but Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis had such strong rapport that one could easily imagine them doing a movie together, albeit not as those characters.  Hathaway, at the start of what will doubtless be a lengthy promotional tour for the Les Miserables movie, got to show off her pipes in a monologue that, to no particular point, brought the whole cast in for a “One Day More” parody about Sundays.

The show’s low point was an endless sketch set in a McDonald’s, where Hathaway was the boss who had to fire someone from the staff, and Strong and Moynihan systematically insulted … every… single… other… person who worked there.  An entirely new election cycle may have come and gone while that joke staggered to its end.

Thinking of which, a sadly toothless season of SNL election coverage came to its rightful finish tonight.  The cold open, with Sudeikis drowning his Mitt Romney sorrows in a great deal of milk, had one good idea (Killiam as all of Romney’s interchangeable sons) and a couple of decent lines about Donald Trump’s racism and Paul Ryan’s inability to carry even his own state, but that was it.  Update featured Jay Pharoah in a desk piece as President Obama, but Pharoah seemed to be doing Eddie Murphy as much as Obama, and this was another piece that had no point of view.  Other post-election Update bits had Fred Armisen and Hader as a gay Maine couple (it was basically their gay New Jersey couple with broad New England accents added), and Moynihan doing his Drunk Uncle character to mostly pointless effect.  (Maybe if Drunk Uncle met The Girl You Wish You Didn’t Start Talking To At A Party, the show would have something.)

Next week, the show is new again, with Jeremy Renner as host and Maroon 5 providing the tunes.  Renner isn’t known as much of a natural comic, so the writers may have their work cut out for them.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."