Last night's Will Ferrell-hosted SNL season closer was a perfect freak-storm of cameos (Tom Hanks, Anne Hathaway, Norm McDonald, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler) and nostalgia. The play-by-play, post-jump.
Will Ferrell couldn't host SNL without getting around to Celebrity Jeopardy, though they pulled out two serious stops for this one: Tom Hanks as Tom Hanks, Norm McDonald as Burt Reynolds, and Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery, which is why we're here. Certainly not as great as of the CJ's of the past. Then again, I'm not sure who thought of it, but whoever did, genius: there was nothing more fun on TV this week (sorry, Lost) than watching Tom Hanks try to maneuver through plastic dry cleaning wrap.
Ferrell's opening monologue was essentially one giant "fuck you" to the Tony voting committee and Broadway, who - if they have any brains about them at all - will give themselves national exposure by handing Ferrell a Tony for his solo show on Broadway (and subsequent HBO special). He's competing against Liza Minnelli. Somewhere, Brian Friel is not laughing. The joke about theater people's pompous self-seriousness is (especially in New York) ridiculously funny. And sadly: resonant. Unfortunately, outside of New York, it might not take.
Speaking of the Bush show, the cold open was Ferrell doing Dubya, of course - when's that going to get old for him? Will it? - and Hammond as Cheney. Again, Ferrell trying to push home the Tony win. Some of the late night ladies at Jezebel didn't like it; personally, I enjoyed. Anything with the words "face shooting" in it gets a chortle, here, but I'm a cheap date. You?
Clearly the favorite amongst the cast who came close to breaking character a bunch of times. Watch Jason Sudeikis try to handle this without laughing, especially around the five-minute mark. Jokes about speed, Bill Hader getting some strangeness in - something about a green Swatch - Maya Rudolph coming in and making complete, absolute, arbitrary nonsense. It was wonderful.
Finally: the cameo-laden finale. Spoiler: it's Ferrell doing "Goodnight Saigon." Kinda fitting. That band has Anne Hathaway, Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, Amy Poehler, musical guests Green Day, and Paul Rudd in it. Again, this one sits squarely on the shoulders of its stars, not the writing.
Oh yeah: Green Day was the musical guest and played some stuff off their new album, but when's a band gonna come on SNL and not do that? Remember when SNL musical performances used to be mildly interesting? Green Day should've come out dressed as 14 year-olds, played "Basketcase," broke some shit, and left. Memo to Lorne Michael: think dynamic. Also, question for Lorne Michaels: Did you burn through your entire Rolodex to pull this one off? Probably. Did it help that you had one of your best and brightest alumni hosted? Naturally. But you can't pull a glued audience simply based on the potential promise of cameos and only half-decent writing that your ace(s)-in-the-hole can walk circles around. You're gonna run out of ringers, eventually.