‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Justin Timberlake”
Hugo Chavez Memorial Service
Fred Armisen hosts a memorial service for deceased president Hugo Chavez, where Elton John (Justin Timberlake) performs a song about Chavez’s life. How often do hosts show up in the opening skit? Timberlake does a goofy, cartoonish Elton John impression, but it’s his dedication to the character and his charisma that sell the hell out of it. Timberlake is seriously one of the best hosts in this show’s history, and this is a pretty exciting opening.
Gosh, you guys, I can hardly believe this is the Justin Timberlake that was in N*Sync and dated Britney Spears. He’s grown up so fast! (I’ll give you a moment to dry your eyes.) For his opening, Timberlake is welcomed to the five-timers club by Paul Simon (holy crap), a too-smooth Steve Martin, and Dan Aykroyd — the latter of which is an original cast member but only hosted once, so he’s relegated to tending bar. The Kristen Wiig “Gilly” cocktail is a nice touch. Chevy Chase also stops by, seemingly slightly more awake than he is on the set of ‘Community,’ and Martin Short pops in with some hors d’ouevres, at which point Timberlake realizes he’s standing next to ‘The Three Amigos.’ Short is delightfully game to ham it up, and then — and then! — Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin walk in and we all have a heart attack and die. The guys give us a little riff on the Mandingo fights from ‘Django Unchained,’ and then — yes, there’s more! — Candice Bergen shows up. Man, what a line-up.
Usually when the opening monologue features appearances by such high quality actors, it’s safe to assume we’re in for a bumpy ride. But when it’s Justin Timberlake, you can always assume that so many awesome people are showing up because, well, it’s Justin Timberlake. And he’s kind of a big deal.
It’s a Date
Bill Hader is the smarmy host of a dating game show where Vanessa Bayer is trying to find a man. Her bachelors include Bobby Moynihan, Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake’s “Dick in a Box” guys, and Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin’s Wild and Crazy Guys! Aykroyd and Martin are still able to rock the plaid pants and polyester shirts as if they never left them behind. Samberg and Timberlake are hilarious, singing about how they’d take Bayer to the mall and “rail” on her butt and somehow drop a reference to ‘Duck Tales,’ while Aykroyd and Martin compete beautifully with their classically lewd characters, who are still just as funny today as they were way back when.
Timberlake does the ol’ restaurant mascot routine, which, in my opinion, never gets old. This time, he’s dressed as a giant piece of tofu and battling Moynihan’s Sausage Depot promoter using songs like “Ice, Ice Baby,” converted to “Brown Rice, Baby,” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” changed to “We found love in a meatless place.” The sketch is one-note and repetitive, but it always puts Timberlake through his paces, making him hop from one music genre to another — while wearing a giant, absurd costume, no less.
A fake commercial about a diamond encrusted birth control ring, a la NuvaRing, for the woman who doesn’t want her period making her feel less fancy. I have no words. This is hilarious and perfect.
STEFON IS BACK! It has been far too long, guys. This week he’s got some tips for springtime tourists, like a club run by a missing Florida woman where a gorilla named Jasper passes kidney stones, or “Your Mother and I are Separating,” which may be my new favorite club ever. Thank you, ‘SNL’ — of all your modern inventions, Stefon and Justin Timberlake may be the best.
The Tales of Sober Caligula
What would have happened if Caligula had a moment of clarity and decided to sober up? Timberlake delivers lines like “I woke up with my penis in the mouth of a dead lion” with panache, and I love the way they’ve integrated modern colloquialisms with a more formal-sounding cadence. The rest of the cast support Timberlake with their incredulous responses to Caligula’s sobriety — in particular, Aidy Bryant’s reactions are perfectly measured, and Tim Robinson’s sex pig had me in stitches.
I’m not the biggest fan of Maine Justice, but this new installment is winning me over a little with Kate McKinnon’s wonderful performance, the involvement of the charismatic Timberlake, and Andy Samberg playing the straight guy, which is always fun. Maine Justice is always absurd, but it boxes itself in with this really obnoxious premise. For me, I’d rank it somewhere near The Californians on a list of stuff I wouldn’t mind seeing disappear from ‘SNL.’ But damn it if I didn’t laugh at Timberlake feeding gumbo to a rubber gator. But it’s a sketch that runs too long and provides very few laughs, and for that I can hardly give it a pass.
She’s Got a Dick
I am not sure what I just watched, but it appeared to be a fake trailer for a movie about a woman (Nasim Pedrad) who has a penis, and how she and her boyfriend (Timberlake) overcome it so they can be together. It was… a thing… that happened… on TV. But Fred Armisen’s Eugene Levy impression is something I wouldn’t mind seeing again soon.
Moet and Chandon
The Swarovski Crystals ladies are back! Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong are back with my favorite new characters from this season — former porn stars who now sell “luxury” products and can’t pronounce them at all, and it works so beautifully because it’s specific. We’ve all seen and heard women who talk and act like drunken illiterates. It’s hilarious. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch this three more times so I can hear Vanessa Bayer talk about how she sprained her wrist while masturbating a horse.