SNL #39.7 RECAP: Host Josh Hutcherson, musical guest Haim

Hey, what’s the biggest movie in America this weekend? The new Hunger Games? Great. Let’s get the star of that to host Saturday Night Live. What, Jennifer Lawrence isn’t available again? Let’s get the other guy. How about the other other guy. The one who appeals to teen girls. The other one. Alright, perfect. And a band named after the late Corey Haim would be great. Wait. What’s that? The rock trio are sisters who actually are named Haim? Oh, alright. Let’s do this anyhow.

The mood is set for this week’s SNL.

We opened cold with a fake episode of CNN’s Piers Morgan (Taran Killam), interviewing the ditzy blonde who’d be ditzy enough to still be George Zimmerman’s girlfriend. As played by Kate McKinnon. Bobby Moynihan plays a Florida police chief stymied by Zimmerman. And Beck Bennett is George Zimmer from Men’s Wearhouse, flummoxed by comparisons to Zimmerman, and he guarantees it. What I don’t guarantee is anything to make you laugh out loud. For a second straight week, the show wants to be topical and political about something so outlandish, the only thing they know how to do is be too on-the-nose with the punchlines.

Speaking of Josh Hutcherson’s monologue. The cast members are so big on the “Hunger Games” movies that they re-enact a scene from the first film in front of Hutcherson, with McKinnon already in costume #2 for the evening as “Effie Trinket” (played in the movies by Elizabeth Banks), and at least Noël Wells gets to acknowledge her lack of screen time before Cecily Strong puts a bow and arrow on it by offering herself up in the sketch as tribute. Sorry, Bobby Moynihan.

No fake ad in the fake ad slot.

I don’t know which focus group named Girlfriends Talk Show as Most Likely to Become This Season’s Most Recurring Sketch, but here we are again, anyhow. Aidy Bryant’s Morgan and Cecily Strong’s Kyra welcome the cutest boy in school, Trevor (Hutcherson).

As the office CEO with the body of a baby, Mr. Patterson (Beck Bennett) plays this sketch all in his commitment to the physicality of the premise: Walking, handling papers, eating lunch. While all of the other employees, from Brooks Wheelan to Kenan Thompson and Taran Killam play it straight. Hutcherson’s new employee is quick to adapt on his first day at the office, though.

This taped bit about subway dance team Matchbox 3 went in a different direction, which was amusing since, as in the live sketch that preceded it, the joke wasn’t much without the commitment to the characters. Here, Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson work their dance moves only in the most crowded cars of the subway along with their third member, “Lil Peanut” (Hutcherson). Until Lil Peanut gets lost in the crowd. Then they replace him with John Milhiser. Battling a mariachi band also is a nice touch; unexplained because how could they was the elevator tangent. “Enjoy the show!”

Ladies and gentlemen, Haim. This is “The Wire.”

Weekend Update

Only one character guesting on this week’s Update desk: It’s Aidy Bryant with travel trips as “the worst lady on an airplane.” Didn’t they do this premise as a sketch earlier? That was about people boarding the plane. Once you’re on it, though? Among her preferred methods of travel: Plastic bags as luggage, bringing her own food onboard the aircraft, taking over the bathroom and laughing hysterically at the DVDs on her laptop.

After the break, we’re back in the 1980s and into a sketch straight out of left field. The Outfield’s hit “Your Love” forms the basis for one half of the dialogue, as in the actual song. With Hutcherson’s character lip-syncing the lyrics in response to Vanessa Bayer’s Veronica. So that’s why you don’t see that sketch online yet. Even though the old men in The Outfield could use the money. What a concept! What a country. In the meantime, you’ll have to make your own dance party.

We are allowed to see this Best Buy Black Friday sketch in full. This sees the return of the bad employees Dana and Niff — has his name been Niff this whole time?! — the duo of Cecily Strong and Bobby Moynihan who make “The Two A-Holes” of Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig seem like a kindler, gentler, simpler time. Here they’re mocking their coworkers once more. Look out for Mandrew, though. He’s a cold-blooded killer with a twink in his eye.

These “Good Neighbor” video pieces really are shaping up to be something to keep an eye on this season. This one, “dancing,” finds Kyle Mooney in his living room, grooving to the beat on his cassette Walkman while ironing when club promoter Beck Bennett bursts in and discovers him? With that beginning, this piece may have a small origin but is quick to race through all of the beats in heightening the story and this would-be dancing star’s career arc.

Once again, Haim. They’re performing their second song with 20 minutes still left in the show? Hmmm.

This is “Don’t Save Me.”

So here we are at the worst animal hospital. Hutcherson, McKinnon and Strong play employees who want to make all of the animals play dead, much to the dismay of the pet owners (played by Aidy Bryant, Kenan Thompson, Brooks Wheelan and Noel Wells). Except the truth is nothing but. Go figure. The worst animal hospital. Zero stars on Yelp. Can you give zero stars?

Another video piece, because how could you expect an investigative report from Winston Sam Bass (Mike O’Brien) to take place live on the street when he’s trying to interview bugs on the sidewalk? Hutcherson plays his little brother Lance. Lance Sam Bass. It’s silly. If you’re in the mood for silly. Are you in the mood for silly? Strap on your fake eyebrows first, then.

It’s five minutes to 1 a.m., time to pull out the weirdest of the weird. And with Thanksgiving coming up, it’s time to head home for the holiday meal. This college kid’s girlfriend is a real turkey, though. A real turkey. Did I mention that Elise (Vanessa Bayer) is supposed to be playing an actual turkey? Gobble gobble.

Good night and see you in December.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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