SNL: Jonah Hill and Future – Solid Miss (Review) [video]

SNL episode 14 of season 41 drew Jonah Hill as host, his fourth time to do so, and with an solid miss on the comedy front, Hill probably felt that he should have stopped after number three.

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
SNL episode 14 of season 41 drew Jonah Hill as host, his fourth time to do so, and with an solid miss on the comedy front, Hill probably felt that he should have stopped after number three. The music guest was Future; the hip-hop artist responsible for DS2 who did the obligatory two songs and come out to join Hill’s opening monologue and took part in a quick gag for Weekend Update.

Speaking of “Weekend Update,” this portion of the show was the highlight with a strong comic presence that kept the episode from going completely down the toilet. (Since two of Hill’s skits dealt with his characters soiling themselves, pun intended.) Without Jost and Che, along with the Vanessa Bayer/Kate McKinnon who trumped the Cecily Strong skit where she, once again, presents a pale version of the late great Gilda Radner‘s character “Roseanne Roseannadanna.”

Strong is a performer, however, it is not her fault that Radner got here first…

The real star performance of the episode belonged to the vastly underused Jay Pharaoh who ran through rapid fire impressions of the creme de la creme of black comics. With speed and apparent ease, Pharaoh did Eddie Murphy, Kat Williams, Chris Rock (who was so spot on it was eerie), Chris Tucker and even the late Bernie Mac before admitting that the “secret” meeting he was reporting on was all made up.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Jay Pharaoh killing it…

Pharaoh was the best bit of the show and only the Bayer and McKinnon skit with Kate as 115 year-old Flossie Dickie as a most unwilling interviewee came close. Although that was mainly because of Bayer’s character trying to shove the microphone in “Flossie’s” mouth and Kate came dangerously close to corpsing as her grimace fought valiantly against an amused grin.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Vanessa Bayer and Kate McKinnon

The pre-taped Donald Trump advertisement was a glimpse back to SNL days of yore, where their “face” commercials were pithy, satirically perfect and, sometimes, with a hidden truth that was so funny it hurt. A great throwback to those pertinent ads of the 70s.

All of the sketches felt forced, un-funny and a little desperate. There were two “local” news skits; the first “Fond du Lac News” was a Wisconsin news program from, Fond du Lac…Where apparently the people who live in the “That ’70s Show state” all sound like they live in Fargo. The second was a “YouTube” type channel that felt completely flat as Jonah Hill played a “roving reporter” who visits a local “crush” who is having a breast reduction.

“The Champ” where Jonah Hill plays a high school wrestler who “wins” against a champion who has never lost before was interesting more than funny. The entire exercise felt like a very, not-so, sly dig at the MTV show Made, where
kids from high schools were “made” into “winning” versions of themselves.

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
The Champ sketch could have been called “Un-Made.”

While the entire gag was clever, sly and poked fun at the concept that all the “players” in the MTV show were sincerely helping the high school wannabes it was not necessarily funny. It was, however, a great idea.

The Oakridge High student auction was, once again, a fine idea but it did just miss the mark. In a time when Google’s YouTube is more about subscribing to new channels and less about teenagers finding fame through “raw talent” the whole thing felt a bit, for lack of a better word, dated. Even Vine, which was the platform of the two “lads” in the skit, is being overtaken by Periscope.

Even Future made more of a splash than poor Hill who just missed the mark all the way around. It is not often that the musical guest does “double duty” and while the hip-hop artist was not overly involved, his brief comic bit, on the Weekend Update section, was funny.

McKinnon got three homers from her appearances as Flossie, Hilary and the cook with the odd and quirky (Northern?) English accent in the Clue, aka Cluedo scene. As another reviewer stated, “we are perfectly happy to sit and watch McKinnon mug for the camera and do what she does best.”

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Kate McKinnon (Maid in the middle) easily the best thing about this sketch…

And speaking of the “middle,” McKinnon got the highpoint of the political open where, as Hillary Clinton, she did the “stuck in the middle with you” gag. A close second to Kate’s win, was the reappearance of SNL alumnus Jason Sudeikis  as Mitt Romney.

Sadly, even though there were some comic moments in the show, Jonah Hill’s fourth time up was a clear miss. Mad props to Jay Pharaoh and Kate McKinnon for totally knocking it out of the park and kudos to Che and Jost for becoming such a consistent double act.

SNL is doing back-to-back airings , hopefully the second episode, aka number 15 does a better job of delivering the laughs.

 

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014): A Winning Sequel

Toothless and Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon 2
How to Train Your Dragon 2, is a winning sequel to the 2010 hit from DreamWorks, where Jay Baruchel plays Hiccup again only this time around he is not fighting against his “heritage” or his father; Chieftain Stoic (Gerard Butler). He has changed Viking history and the village of Berk are at one with dragons and Hiccup is now searching for something outside the boundaries of his father’s world. Although he will soon replace Stoic the Vast as chief of the people he wants more.

This animated film goes beyond the reach of Berk as Hiccup discovers a foe who wants to control all the dragons so he can control the people. Djimon Hounsou plays Drago, a dragon master who has an Alpha male that he commands. Hiccup also finds his mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett) as well as learning just how far he and Toothless can go together.

This second journey in the world of Berk and Hiccup sees, or more accurately, hears some familiar voices as America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse return to reprise their roles. Cate Blanchett is a new addition as is Kit Harington who plays Eret, “Son of Eret.”

How to Train Your Dragon 2 works well even for those who have not watched the first film. The franchise, a second sequel is projected for release in 2018, has done very well and proven popular with the targeted audience. There is enough action and humor to keep everyone in the family happy and this is entertainment that the entire clan can watch and enjoy.

How can lines like “I grew facial hair for you,” fail to garner a laugh. Rich characterization, the right actors voicing the right parts and some epic dragon battles all equal a brilliant experience for the viewer. High caliber performers like Cate Blanchett turning up shows that the studios took this sequel as seriously as the first installment.

If there is any qualm with the film at all, it is that Jay Baruchel sounds like a young Christian Slater clone. His delivery, tone and pacing are pure Slater, albeit a very high pitched one. This does not hurt either film but it is a bit disconcerting.

For all the battles and a couple of deaths, the film is clear of actual animated bloodshed. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is streaming on Netflix and for fans of these types of movies should not be missed. A real 5 out of 5 stars for great fun, epic fights and some great gags.

22 Jump Street Seriously Funny Follow Up (DVD Review/Trailer)

22 Jump Street Seriously Funny Follow Up (DVD Review/Trailer)

It almost feels like 2014 is the year of the comedic sequel, Dumb and Dumber To, Horrible Bosses 2 and earlier than both these, 22 Jump Street which is now out on Blu Ray and DVD; the film is a seriously funny follow up to the original. While it is not perfection, the second pairing of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, and Ice Cube stepping in as the head of Jump Street again, works very well overall. This sequel picks up the pace just a little and Peter Stormare has a brilliant cameo as the nostalgic drug lord The Ghost, who misses the good old days.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Stock Market Goodfellas (Trailer)

The Wolf of Wall Street: Stock Market Goodfellas (Trailer)

With the release tomorrow of The Wolf of Wall Street on DVD and Blue-ray it seemed a good idea to revisit this Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio stock market Goodfellas. The original Goodfellas, which was also based on a true story, was about wise-guy Henry Hill who could not be a “made man” with the mafia because of the non-Italian blood in his veins. Hill turned informant when he was caught by the same law enforcement agency – the FBI – that took down Jordan Belfort, aka the “wolf” of wall street.

Jonah Hill Leonardo DiCaprio Bromance Moment

Jonah Hill Leonardo DiCaprio Bromance Moment

Just when it seems like Saturday Night Live has lost some of its panache regarding guest hosts, they trot out Jonah Hill who then has a Leonardo DiCaprio bromance moment. Not to take away from Hill’s monologue, which you can see in the video below, because Hill was doing what he does best, being the big little man everyone loves to bust on.