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‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Josh Brolin”

SNL Josh Brolin
NBC

This week’s ‘Saturday Night Live‘ is hosted by Josh Brolin with musical guest and Sting soundalike Gotye. We give you a rundown of the episode with all the highs — two digital shorts this week! — and lows.

Opening Monologue

Brolin’s on board this week to promote ‘Men in Black 3,’ and his monologue is quite charming as he explains that he’s there to do some “career-endingly stupid” comedy and he’s taken on a new job as representative of the 90s. Jay Pharaoh pops in to do his Will Smith impression, and while Pharaoh’s impressions can sometimes skew on the excessive side, the pairing of Pharaoh as Smith and Brolin as a young Tommy Lee Jones is delightful, especially when Brolin’s impression is him just saying “all right.”

Did it work? As far as opening monologues go, this was a refreshingly simple, concise approach. Point one for Brolin.

Quote it: “You down with OPP? Yeah, you know me? The 90s.”

The Californians

Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen star as characters on a fictional soap opera about dumb blonde California types. Brolin shows up as a doctor and we get our first appearance of the episode from newcomer Katie McKinnon. Hader cracks, which he usually only does during the Stefon bits on Weekend Update. Also of note: with a slight modification on that hair, Bill Hader would make a fantastic Michael Shannon.

Did it work? Mostly. It gets a little repetitive by the final third when Kenan Thompson shows up, but the running gag involving driving routes and major street names is pretty funny.

Quote it: “There’s lots of street parking and if not there’s a Coffee Bean across the street that fully validates.”

Digital Short: Laser Cats!

Bill Hader and Andy Samberg bring ┬áSteven Spielberg in, who has directed the new Laser Cats. Josh Brolin and Fred Armisen play Spielbergian villains and the whole bit is a riff on ‘E.T.’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.’

Does it work? Digital Shorts tend to be the best thing about any given episode, and Laser Cats is always reliable for big, absurd laughs. Samberg taps into a cheap, DIY sensibility that skews slightly vintage with effects and melodrama. Where ‘Tim and Eric’ can be polarizing with similar content and style, Samberg is always accessible.

Quote it: “Hitchcockian!”

“EAT. It stands for Extra Awesome Terrestrial.”

“A cat-tastrophe of Jurassic proportions!”

Gotye (featuring Kimbra): “Somebody That I Used to Know”

If you haven’t heard this song on the radio every ten minutes for the last few months, you’re probably cool and listening to mixtapes like some renegade hipster. Gotye sounds sort of like Sting and looks like an exotic mixture of Bradley Cooper and Vincent Gallo. Kimbra drops in for her verse on the song, which is so damn good. Also: how beautiful is Kimbra, you guys?

Weekend Update

The special segment this week is “What Are You Doing?” which is a hilarious skewering of North Korea’s recent failed third attempt to launch a rocket into space. Also of note is a story about a kid who brought heroin to show and tell and an art exhibit focusing on 12 dogs that died on the Titanic. The best news bit is about Pizza Hut’s new hot dog-stuffed crust pizza, which Seth Meyers notes is called “The Rock Bottom Special,” where the box doubles as a suicide note.

Special guests on this week’s segment are Garth and Kat (Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig), which is always an adorable but basic improv bit where Armisen sings a song he’s made up and Wiig tries to keep up and sing along when she has no idea what the words are.

Quote it: “You don’t have oil and we’re good with khakis.”

Piers Morgan Tonight

Taran Killam plays Piers Morgan in a topical sketch about the Trayvon Martin case. Jason Sudeikis provides bizarre Florida laws like “eye for an iPod,” where you can take someone’s eye for stealing your iPod. Fred Armisen plays ‘Law & Order’ expert Ice-T. Josh Brolin plays a dumb defense lawyer. Jay Pharaoh and Nasim Pedrad show up as Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

Does it work? This sketch is a bit of a miss, with the only highlights being Sudeikis’ bizarre Florida laws and Pedrad’s nasally Kardashian impression. The whole thing suffers from a bit of overkill, with the joke being that none of these people are really qualified to discuss this particular crime and Piers is just sort of a celeb hound. Sadly, it’s just not very funny.

Digital Short: Gotye Backstage

Andy Samberg and Taran Killam tell Gotye how much they love his video for “Somebody That I Used to Know” and proceed to recreate the memorable body paint-camouflage while standing behind him.

Does it work? Let’s just say I laughed so loud when Killam and Samberg did the Kimbra cry of “Used to knoowwww!” that I scared my cat. It’s a nice bit that evokes memories of the infamous ‘O.C.’ spoof “Dear Sister,” with some slight repetition, and Samberg once again nails it with this short.

Gotye: “Eyes Wide Open”

Hey, it’s another Gotye performance. Side note: Gotye should have his own ‘Punk’d’ show where his catchphrase is, obviously, “GOTYE!”

The song is an excellent choice seeing as it’s probably the only other solid song on his album, which is filled with the kind of songs you might expect to hear in a Nancy Meyers film during a montage where the pre-menopausal mom gets her crap together.

Principal Frye Prom

Jay Pharaoh plays Principal Frye and brings his trademark cadence, while Josh Brolin plays a drunk teacher who talks about his affair with his student.

Does it work? Principal Frye is a thin character whose only real humor is in his signature repetition of “attention teachers and students,” but Brolin and Kenan Thompson save the sketch. Brolin’s drunk, lecherous teacher is delightfully icky. The second crack of the night occurs when Pharaoh tries to describe a license plate that says “sexy and I know 8.”

Quote it: “I wanna look all day at her tiny little boobies.”

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