Tag Archives: Kristen Wiig

Top 10 Sketches of SNL Season 37

Oh, SNL. Sometimes I wonder why I watch it every week. But then a character like Stefon comes along and makes me fall in love with the show all over again.

I thought this past season was actually a very strong one for the show. It seemed like the writing was a bit tighter, and with standout performers like Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and relative newbie Taran Killam stepping up to the plate, it gave us plenty of memorable moments. Here’s a look at some of the best.

Honorable Mention: “She’s a Rainbow” (Mick Jagger)

I didn’t feel right including it on my list, since this wasn’t a proper sketch and wasn’t supposed to be humorous. However, it was such a lovely send-off for Kristen Wiig that I would be remised not to mention it. Love Mick Jagger and Arcade Fire, love the rest of the cast members’ reaction. Wiig is awesome, and I’m sad to see her go.


Honorable Mention: “The Real Housewives of Disney” (Lindsay Lohan)

Definitely had some great moments (Taran Killam’s snooty Prince Charming laugh, Wiig’s drunken Cinderella), but didn’t quite live up to its potential as an entire comedy bit for me.

Honorable Mention: “J Pop America Funtime Now!” (Anna Faris)

Killam and Vanessa Bayer play two white kids obsessed with Japanese culture who are gleeful in their unintentional racism. At least they have Sudeikis’ exasperated teacher to try and set them straight. Killam’s moony grin kills me.

10. Bein’ Quirky With Zooey Deschanel (Zooey Deschanel)

Sketches that allow the cast to roll out their celebrity impressions are often enjoyable, but rarely noteworthy. But something about this sketch just worked. We may have seen Killam’s pitiable Michael Cera, Wiig’s giggling Bjork (who knits a sweater for an octopus and leaves “one extra hole for its dreams and ideas”), but they’re perfect in this setting. Abby Elliot’s adorkable Zooey Deschanel and Zooey Deschanel’s Mary-Kate Olsen were also nice.


9. Columbus Day Assblast (Ben Stiller)

Ass Dan will never not be funny to me.

8. You Can Do Anything! (Daniel Radcliffe)

Radcliffe was an eager host, so it made sense to give him such a high-energy sketch to work with. It cleverly commented on the obliviousness and delusions of young people today, and Radcliffe’s little jig was just wonderful. It also gave me a phrase to work into conversation: “I tried, and therefore no one should criticize me.” Radcliffe was actually a great host.


7. Someone Like You (Emma Stone)

It’s a simple premise: everyone listens to Adele’s “Someone Like You” and cries uncontrollably. But it’s really funny. Nasim Pedrad gets the Best Crier in Show award from me.


6. B108FM (Lindsay Lohan)

There wasn’t a lot to this sketch, but I just really, really enjoyed it. It was nice to see Killam and Bobby Moynihan get their own sketch. Playing two morning radio DJ’s in the middle of nowhere, Killam and Moynihan’s enthusiasm was infectious. Lohan’s contribution was less than stellar, but even she couldn’t bring down the gleeful mood of this one.

5. Retirement Party (Jason Segel)

This is a bit of a bizarre one, and some would say that it doesn’t go anywhere. I, however, found it increasingly hilarious to watch Wiig exclaim, “I don’t have anything to say!” repeatedly. “I’m not quick on my feet. I’m not Robin William.”

4.Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (Melissa McCarthy)

McCarthy proved countless times that she was a host up for anything. Perhaps this was never more apparent than in this sketch, which revolved around a focus group sampling ranch dressing. McCarthy’s comedic timing and ability to go with the flow are just two reasons why she was one of the best hosts of the season.

3. Coach Bert (Steve Buscemi)

Definitely an edgy one, considering it came right on the heels of the Penn State scandal. Very funny, though, and Buscemi was the perfect host to pull it off. I love when SNL goes dark (see also: Jason Sudeikis as the Devil).

2. Lord Wyndemere (Anna Faris)

Paul Brittain, you shall be missed. His delightful little sweets-loving lord was an inspired character. Jason Sudeikis as the enraptured father and Bill Hader as the footman, Turlington, were almost just as good.

1. Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (Sofia Vergara)

I had never heard of Andy Cohen when I watched this sketch, and I’ve actually still never seen him live in action. But something about Killam’s gleeful self-delusions as Cohen won me over. I laughed. A lot. This was one of Killam’s standout moments of the season, and I still can’t get that image of his face on a dog’s body out of my head.

Other Notable Bits (AKA things that weren’t their own sketch, but still were funny):

  • Bobby Moynihan as Drunk Uncle on Weekend Update (“Netflix me! Netflix me!”)
  • Justin Timberlake as Bon Iver
  • Nicholas Cage appearing in Get in the Cage
  • Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Seth Myers sharing the Weekend Update desk. That whole Jimmy Fallon episode was just lovely.
  • Jason Sudeikis playing both the Devil and Jesus over the course of the season
  • The entire Maya Rudolph episode. Seriously. There wasn’t one super standout sketch for me, but it was just an all-around fantastic episode.

The Times Like Those Alternative Oscars!

Every year, the same movies snatch up a big portion  of the Oscar nominations. Then, we hear about these movies for months as we lead up to Oscar night. And while this year has been a pretty exciting race (I’d say the winners for both lead acting categories are up in the air), and there were a few surprise nominees that snuck in at the last moment (what’s up, Demian Birchir?), it  can get a little bit repetitive to hear about the same movies over and over again, even if you enjoyed them.

In hopes of offering a change of pace, I’ve compiled my own “Oscar”  list of sorts. For my categories, I ignored all of the existing Oscar nominees and focussed on films and performances that didn’t receive as much awards attention this year. I also omitted people like Shailene Woodley, who did not receive an Oscar nomination but still got lots of attention from critics, bloggers, and awards groups leading up to the nominations.

Also, keep in mind that there are still lots of films from this year that I need to see. Shame, Take Shelter, Melancholia, and Martha Marcy May Marlene are just a few on that list.

Enjoy, and feel free to post your own “alternative Oscars” in the comments.

Best Picture

Drive

The Ides of March

Meek’s Cutoff

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Win Win

It may be a small, unassuming film, but Meek’s Cutoff stuck with me in a big way this year. The film is unconventional in almost every way (the pacing, the mumbled dialogue, the refusal to punch up the story with high drama), and it’s a true achievement in cinema.

Best Director

Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

George Clooney, The Ides of March

Carey Fukanaga, Jane Eyre

Nicholas Winding Refn, Drive

Kelly Reichardt, Meek’s Cutoff

Again, I have to give this one to Meek’s Cutoff. While Nicholas Winding Refn offered a masterclass in cool and Tomas Alfredson built insane tension around old guys sitting around talking in a room, Kelly Reichardt created something truly unique. I didn’t care for her last project, Wendy and Lucy, but her deliberate pace and sparse, terse tone worked wonders in Meek’s.

Best Actor

Dominic Cooper, The Devil’s Double

Ryan Gosling, Drive

Tom Hardy, Warrior

Ewan McGregor, Beginners

Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris

Cooper masters not one but two challenging roles in this messy film. He’s chilling and downright crazy as Sadam Hussein’s son, Uday, and also deeply sympathetic as Latif, the man hired as Uday’s double. It’s a towering pair of performances, and Cooper finally realizes the potential he showed in small roles in films such as Starter for 10 and An Education.

Best Actress

Felicity Jones, Like Crazy

Keira Knightley, Last Night

Mia Wasikowska, Jane Eyre

Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids

Robin Wright, The Conspirator

Wiig gives a downright brilliant comedic performance in Bridesmaids, and sometimes that is enough for me. She throws herself into every gag headfirst, and she comes out in the end with a highly charming, perfectly executed performance. McCarthy is also great, but for me, Wiig is the reason to watch Bridesmaids.

Best Supporting Actor

Michael Fassbender, Jane Eyre

Colin Ford, We Bought a Zoo

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Ides of March

Simon Pegg, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mark Strong, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I thought Fassbender was a tad overrated in X-Men (sorry), but he reminded me why I loved him so much in Fish Tank with a similarly physical and subtly threatening performance in the gorgeous Jane Eyre. He oozes charisma here, and makes for a completely magnetic screen presence. Kudos to Mark Strong, too, for fantastic scene-stealing work in Tinker Tailor, and for converting me into a Mark Strong fan.

Best Supporting Actress

Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life

Anna Kendrick, 50/50

Carey Mulligan, Drive

Amy Ryan, Win Win

Michelle Williams, Meek’s Cutoff

It was the year of Chastain, and my favourite performance of hers (though I haven’t seen them all) was as the ethereal wife in The Tree of Life. It’s a beautiful, moving performance, and she slips seamlessly into the languid tone of the film.

Trailer Alert: Ceremony and Bridesmaids

Looks like it’s a bridal-themed edition of Trailer Alert.

Ceremony – April 8, 2011

Ceremony, the directorial debut from Max Winkler (yes, son of The Fonz), earned fairly positive reviews at last year’s TIFF, and this trailer makes it easy to see why. It doesn’t look like anything groundbreaking, but it just seems like a really charming little movie. It’s nice to see Uma Thurman back in something that, to all appearances, seems decent. And while Lee Pace is always a welcome sight, his character does seem a bit over the top. It’s sort of like the actor version of Russell Brand’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and that seems a bit too strong for an otherwise modest-seeming film. But the real draw here for me is the two younger stars. If you haven’t seen Michael Angarano in Snow Angels or Reece Thompson in Rocket Science, you should definitely check them out. Both films are great, and Angarano and Thompson give hugely charming and touching performances. They’ve both been somewhat absent in the past couple of years, movie-wise, and they seem to be at the top of their game here (especially Angarano, who, to be fair, gets far more screen time in this trailer). This is definitely one that I’ll be watching out for.

Bridesmaids – May 13, 2011

To start with, I love that Judd Apatow (a producer here) is making a film with female main characters. I like that Paul Feig (Apatow’s fellow Freaks and Geeks alumnus) is directing. And I love that the cast includes Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, and Ellie Kemper (not to mention Jon Hamm!). Even though a few jokes in the trailer fall flat (must we resort to bathroom humour?), it looks pretty good. Hopefully this isn’t the thing where they give away all the best jokes in the trailer (hi, Due Date!), but with Wiig (who also co-wrote the film) and her powerhouse comedic chops in the lead, I don’t think we’ll have to worry about waning exuberance. She’s the female Jim Carrey (I said it!), and it’s great to see Wiig finally get a leading role. I’m not completely sold on Bridesmaids, but I’d say it looks pretty promising.

Extract (2009)

It should be noted that I have not seen Mike Judge’s 1999 cult classic, Office Space. While it’s on my very long list of movies that I want to someday get around to seeing, I don’t see that as being a problem for reviewing his latest film, Extract.

In this offbeat comedy, Jason Bateman plays Joel Reynolds, the owner of a factory that makes food flavouring extracts. He has to deal with a gaggle of hapless employees, a sexless marriage, and the temptation to cheat on his wife (Kristen Wiig) with an attractive young temp at his plant (Mila Kunis). Joel’s only friend, a spacey bartender named Dean (Ben Affleck) suggests that Joel tempt his wife with an attractive young gigolo (Dustin Milligan). If she takes the bait, Dean figures that Joel is free to pursue an affair with his employee, Cindy.

But unbeknownst to Joel, Cindy is actually a con artist, hoping to capitalize on an unfortunate accident that left one of Joel’s employees, Step (Clifton Collins Jr.), in a position to sue the company. The impending lawsuit puts the company’s chances of being bought out – and Joel’s hopes for an early retirement – in jeopardy.

If that sounds like a lot of plot for a silly 90 minute comedy, it’s probably because it is. Extract is a film that would have benefitted from fewer characters and subplots, and more concentration on the humour aspect. There are funny parts, but this movie stalls several times when it’s trying to squeeze in all of the necessary plot points. And after all of that story, the movie still doesn’t feel like it’s really about anything.

But even though Extract is thrifty with its laughs, it does find a lot of humour in everyday people and circumstances. From Joel’s unrelentingly annoying neighbour to the young metalhead working at the extract factory, you’re bound to recognize people that you know in the characters. Joel himself is a very real character, and therefore a very flawed person. He’s kind of like a less likeable version of Bateman’s Michael Bluth on Arrested Development. But Bateman plays the character expertly. His sense of timing and sarcasm is impeccable, and it’s great to see him get a lead role.

Though I’m not much of a Ben Affleck fan (except when he’s directing Gone Baby Gone), I thought he was actually pretty funny here, even if the “dumb stoner” shtick isn’t exactly a new concept. He brings some likeability and zest to the role that’s needed in a film like this, which is so wry that it’s almost devoid of emotion.

Mila Kunis is given virtually nothing to do in this role, other than standing around and looking nice. Cindy started off seeming like an interesting character, but she’s soon shuttled to the background. We never learn anything about her story, and the “con artist” plotline goes in the most expected directions. Kristen Wiig isn’t given much screen time or material either (though she makes the best of it), which is ridiculous, considering what a huge comedic talent she is. Having a good cast is important, but it’s also irrelevant if you don’t play to their strengths.

Extract is a mixed bag. Its observational humour is spot-on at times, but the physical humour involving crotch-shots and black eyes falls totally flat. It suffers from too many characters, and often gets too wrapped up in half-baked storytelling. Bateman really helps to save the movie, and I like that its going for a subtle brand of humour. But in the end, there just aren’t enough laughs to make it a must-see.

6/10