SNL: S34E20... HOST: ZAC EFRON... DATE: APRIL 11, 2009

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or...

A Surprising Break From

The So-So Mold Of This Season

 

Now, if I were going into this viewing about five years ago, I would’ve been totally caught off guard by the fact that I actually enjoyed this Zac Efron hosted episode. At that time, I only knew him as some Disney kid who arrived on scene past the point where I might watch his brand of content to be ironic. I was also too old to be fan holding on to liking our host for some show that he started in during my youth. I saw him more like a Justin Beiber who, to an old ugly guy, seems unjustly adored by little girls because of his looks and lame songs.

A couple of years ago, my youngest sister, who is in the age range of his typical fans, had me watch the movie Neighbors with her because she knew it was right up my alley. She didn’t have to fight all that hard since I’m such a Seth Rogen fan, plus I couldn’t quite tell if the movie actually was supposed to be a remake of the same-titled classic film starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

I hadn’t seen the old Neighbors in so long that I couldn’t remember if they were any similarities at all other than the living distance between feuding stars but I didn’t find that I didn’t really hate Zac Efron. I recently watched him again in the Baywatch remake with The Rock and the sideshow biopic The Greatest Showman which led me to ease up on my critical eye when it came to our host for tonight.

Though I was open to the idea of this episode being at least somewhat good, considering how the season screwed up both The Rock’s and Seth Rogen’s episode, I was expecting more of the same. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case,, and instead tonight there was a perfect storm of my expectation being at just the right blend of doubt and hope, that the fact that it was good at all made this episode great. Not anywhere near the best from the season but I did really enjoy almost the entire night.

With that said, let's dig into my thoughts as I watched this episode. The opening sketch was weird because it did feature political figured, but it wasn’t really based on anything from the news. Instead, it felt more like the show was trying to set up Joe Biden as this high energy idiot to make up for the fact that they no longer had George W. Bush and McCain’s recent loss meant there was no Sarah Palin to turn into their political clown. Either way, the sketch just failed to be funny at all.

Zac Efron’s monolog was just fine, even though it did resort to the played out audience interruption motif, at least it was funny with Fred Armisen introducing the idea of people between the ages of forty and fifty being known as being a ‘twifty to make fun of the newly coined term ‘tweens. As always, I hated the parody Today that followed and can’t wrap my head around why this series of reoccurring sketches always ends up so high in the show’s line up.

At this point, there were three so-so at best sketches in a row, which almost led me to write off the rest of the show. Thankfully, Gilly returned after this, winning back my interest because this character never fails to crack me up. I also like Jason Sudeikis’s desperate attempt to put junk mail in a good light, even though our host was nowhere in site. The Underage Drinking sketch sort of slipped back into the realm of so-so in its delivery but at least it was a pretty funny idea.

It was nice to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs because I really liked several of their songs, but unfortunately, I learned of them passed the point where I would track down every album of any band that I was even slightly a fan of, so I don’t know all that much of their catalog including this song. Again, the news was the news, and I love how they keep bringing back Jon Bovi. I also loved the High School The Musical parody that followed even though I’ve never seen anything from this series of movies. I just found it fun how in the world of the sketch no one seemed aware of the fact that there was a non-musical world and that real people don’t burst into song on a dime.

Casey Wilson chasing the train while saying goodbye to her lover who was off to WWII was another fun one. At the same time, it seemed to drag on for just a little too long, especially considering the lame ending it built up to, where her lover, Zac, randomly dumped her as if she was overreacting to him leaving for a trip to the store. Fred Armisen then cracked me up as the commercial mom who kept getting offended by the scripted material before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs returned to play my favorite of their songs.

I really liked the last sketch where Zac Efron tried to get advice from Jason Sudeikis as his loser of a brother to the point where I think these two characters could/should be adapted into a movie. The fact that Zac is good looking enough that he could probably do nothing and still win the girl made is extra funny that he had to turn to his Guitar Hero playing, garage dwelling, chronic masturbating brother for advice is enough of a set up to drive a feature-length comedy film with these two in each role.

After that, Zac said his good nights and I was happy to have watched this episode. Now that I shared how the viewing went down, it’s now time to delve into more of the specifics, and in order to do so, I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a sketch called Obama Homecoming that took place in the oval office and had Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden goofing off while sitting in Obama’s seat upon his arrival home from his first European tour of Europe. Biden was caught off guard by Fred Armisen as Obama who disappointed Biden when informing that there was no time to shop for souvenirs. The rest of the sketch was Biden talking up how well he handled running America while the President was gone. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Zac Efron then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he was excited to be performing for a more mature audience for the first time before thanking Kristen Wiig, and Casey Wilson as two awkward ‘tween fans for their support. Things then got more awkward when he also thanked Fred Armisen as what he referred to as ‘twifty male fan because he was between forty and fifty, which is less promoted segment of Zac Efron’s target audience.

  3. This was followed by another parody of Today for more of Kristen Wiig and Michaela Watkin making fun of Kathy Lee and Hoda, only this time Zac Efron stopped in as their guest/Kathy Lee’s son Cody Gifford.

  4. Gilly also returned for another segment of Kristen Wiig as her frizzy-haired goofball of a character who loves to pull pranks that are more like violent attacks this time while at the annual science fair.

  5. A Message From The Alliance Of Direct Mail Marketers had Jason Sudeikis as the head of this group to speak in favor of unsolicited direct mail advertisements claiming that they have unbelievable benefits like while downplaying any issues dealing with identity theft while openly admitting, they just sell the information to the highest bidder either way.

  6. Underage Drinking had Zac Efron and Andy Samberg as two minors at a Jolly Trolley. They’re so excited to be in a bar that doesn’t card until they realize the bar is filled with literal children who were all taking advantage of this easy-going ID situation that didn’t make the situation seem as fun. At the end of the sketch, we learned that this was actually a political ad for Elliot Spitzer who was attempting a political comeback from yet another political sex scandal from this time.

  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs then took to the stage to perform Zero.

  8. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Bill Hader and Fred Armisen returned as the gay couple from Jersey who haven’t been on in quite some time. For this visit, they share how thrilled they were to finally be allowed to get married and upgrade from being life partners. Michael Watkins then dropped by a blogger who’s very loose with her signature “Bitchplease” catchphrase as she disses several celebrities before fawning over Zac Efron when talking about his movie 17 Again. Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte also returned as the founding member of Jon Bovi to plead why they should be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)

  9. This was followed by a parody of High School Musical 4 where Zac Efron informed the class of ’08 that ordinary people don’t spontaneously sing out loud in the real world when giving a graduation speech. By the end of the sketch, a thawed out Walt Disney arrived to inform the class that their little corner of the world actually was filled with non-stop singing magic.

  10. Since You Went Away was a parody of a classic war drama that had Zac Efron departing for WWII, but he struggles to shake his strong-willed girlfriend, Casey Wilson, who seemed determined to chase his train all the way to Germany.

  11. Gino's Pizza Rolls had Fred Armisen as a slighted Italian mom who misinterpreted her lines while playing a role in a commercial for Gino’s pizza roll product. Instead of saying her lines she kept breaking the scene by delivering her scripted rebuttals to Zac Efron’s scripted playful insults about her cooking while talking up the pizza rolls.

  12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs then returned to the stage to perform Maps.

  13. Foot Rub took us to a family garage where Jason Sudeikis played an adult child who refused to leave home because it would mean he couldn’t play Guitar Hero and masturbate whenever he wants. Meanwhile, this is the man that a teen Zac Efron turned to for advice on dating and Sudeikis’s only advice was to give his girlfriend a foot rub leading to an awkward demonstration of how to do it right.

  14. Finally, Zac Efron closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Though this episode would land at the tip top of my favorites list, it will definitely be up in one of the top spots, thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Foot Rub sketch because as a loser similar to Sudeikis’s character, who had to move back home, I feel like I could turn this sketch into a feature-length movie if I were still writing screenplays. Next, I really liked Gino's Pizza Rolls because, again, as a writer, I was highly entertained by Fred Armisen’s character’s inability to hear the prewritten lines about her fictional character without taking it personally as her “real world” identity. Finally, I liked A Message From The Alliance Of Direct Mail Marketers because switch junk mail to be digital and this same exact sketch would fit perfectly with the current state of the internet.

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Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.