Charlize Theron hasn’t hosted Saturday Night Live since 2000, which was 14 whole years ago and a performance which very few of us actually remember. That didn’t stop her from crafting a monologue out of a sketch from that 2000 show, however. Her singing part in that sketch kept getting reduced and reduced until she realized, “I can’t sing.” Which the writers apparently thought was hilarious because guys, Charlize Theron can do everything: Win Oscars! Star in dramas! Star in comedies! But… she can’t sing. Ha, ha!
The musical monologue pointed out Theron’s other talents while some cast members provided the singing and dancing. Theron kind-of-sang (but mostly spoke) about her lack of vocal talent, but that’s OK because she’s won an Academy Award, never had bad sex, etc. This probably would have been funnier if the host wasn’t Charlize Theron — someone who, despite usually going for dramas, has proven her comedy chops in her guest role on Arrested Development and in the darkly funny Young Adult. The monologue could have been a great chance for us to see that funny Theron again, but instead we just got… a not-completely-musical musical number.
The rest of the show was as disappointing as the monologue, with too many sketches falling completely flat, even with Theron’s great performances. Although watching her did make me want to see more of the actress (how convenient, A Million Ways to Die in the West starring Charlize Theron is out May 30!), it was hard to get past how few laughs the evening’s jokes actually got.
The sketches weren’t all bad though, with some great moments including…
The best sketch was actually a digital short of the SNL cast, disguised as tourists, wandering the streets of New York. At first, it didn’t seem too promising — don’t we make fun of tourists enough? But the characters the cast played were hilarious, from Theron wearing a fat suit and asking people to take photos of her before giving them her camera and just walking away to Kate McKinnon asking passersby where to find a sex club. The best part: When Bobby Moynihan asks someone where a certain street is and then continues to give that person directions to that street. Classic tourist move!
Disappointing pervy men everywhere, Theron got her full ugly on in this sketch and took us back to her Monster days when everyone was reminded she’s not just a pretty face. McKinnon and Theron played two women in charge of a rescue home for cats with a delightful weirdness. It gave Theron a chance to really show off her comedic talent (and to creepily hit on McKinnon’s character). Plus, there were kittens. What could go wrong when kittens are involved?
Barbara Walters has been an object of parody on SNL since the very beginning, but on Saturday night, we finally got to see the real Walters on Weekend Update. Cecily Strong began the bit by pointing out Walters’ upcoming departure from The View and playing a compilation of all the Barbara Walters impressions the show has done over the years. At first, the compilation seemed like a lazy way to fill some time — until Strong introduced Barbara Walters and the woman herself appeared on the screen. And this is what a good sport looks like:
“Bikini Beach Party” had so much potential, but it ended up being a sketch focused on a gross gag rather than any substantial writing. Throughout the entire sketch, characters talk about how Theron’s character is going to make out with Taran Killam’s character next to the dead whale on the beach. Each time, they mention the dead whale is filled with gas and it’s going to explode. So when Theron and Killam finally get to the beach and stand next to the dead whale, it’s no surprise at all when it does explode, leaving the two covered in fake blood and guts. The punchline was so predictable that it wasn’t satisfying. Besides, watching whales explode is what YouTube is for.
Show We’d Actually Want to Watch in Real Life
A short gave us a parody of one of HBO’s First Looks for a fictional show called Dragon Babies, featuring animated clips of dragon babies plus the voice of Mike O’Brien playing Chicago cop Rick Shoulders. We could always use more of O’Brien’s quirkiness on the show, and this sketch gave us that in full force. O’Brien really nailed the lack of self-awareness of the controversial cop, and his chemistry with Cecily Strong, who played his wife, was amazing. So when does Dragon Babies premiere?
McKinnon was lucky to star in one of the evening’s best sketches as the crazy cat lady, but she also improved some otherwise-drab sketches with her personality. McKinnon is one of those performers I could watch for hours on end, a quality that’s probably part of why she’s on SNL and why sketches like “Mother’s Day Game Show” aren’t completely boring.
Best Musical Moment
The Black Keys gave two strong performances, but Best Musical Moment goes to “Bullet in the Brain” because the build-up from the soft intro into a more up-tempo song was powerful enough to convince me to give their latest album a listen. Bonus: Theron introduced the band still covered in red goo from the “Bikini Beach Party” sketch.
Best Musical Moment Runner-Up
Bobby Moynihan as Drunk Uncle returned to Weekend Update to share his thoughts on graduation, but the real highlight was when he closed his eyes, started fluttering his hand, and launched into a teary rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly.” It only lasts for a few seconds, but those few moments are so weird and so great.
Best Mother’s Day Tribute
SNL devoted an entire sketch to moms with its game show sketch, but Kyle Mooney’s shirt ended up stealing the show. At the episode’s conclusion, as everyone gathered on stage to bid the audience farewall, Mooney enthusiastically pointed out his homemade “I <3 MOM” shirt. A few moments later, we got to see a close-up of the beautiful creation when the cameraman zoomed in. Best Son Ever goes to… Kyle Mooney!