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‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Josh Hutcherson”

SNL Josh Hutcherson HAIM Promo Catching Fire
NBC

On tonight’s all-new episode of ‘SNL,’ ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘ star Josh Hutcherson stops by to host — presumably because Jennifer Lawrence is a bit too busy. Not that we’re complaining! It’s Hutcherson’s first time on the 30 Rock stage and we can’t wait to see what the night has in store. We’re sure ‘SNL’ will pay, uh, tribute to ‘The Hunger Games’ in some fashion. Read on for our review of tonight’s episode!

Piers Morgan Live

Taran Killam plays Piers Morgan, covering the ridiculously ongoing George Zimmerman news, interviewing his most recent ex-girlfriend, played by Kate McKinnon (who keeps calling the host “Purse”), and a frustrated Florida cop (Bobby Moynihan) who can’t arrest Zimmerman because the guy has too many guns. Finally, Beck Bennet plays George Zimmer, the owner of Men’s Warehouse, who’s getting a bad rap from the confusion. A pretty solid open that captures the ineptitude of the Florida criminal justice system. How is this guy still a free man? He’s a depressing walking parody of the “Florida Man” headline.

Opening Monologue

Holy cow, Josh Hutcherson just turned 21?! What a baby! McKinnon immediately runs out in full Effie Trinket costume and it’s delightful. She’ll be drawing the names of one male and one female cast member (who are all also appropriately dressed and hair braided) to come on stage and fight to the death. Cecily Strong volunteers as tribute for Noel Wells, Kenan Thompson left his keys in the bowl because he thought it was a key party, and of course Moynihan is stoked for a ‘Star Trek’-type duel. I also love how game Hutcherson is to make fun of Peeta for always being so delicate and needing to be protected.

Girlfriends Talk Show

Girlfriends Talk Show is so fun! Strong and Aidy Bryant host their girly chat show, where Strong is the more assured and bubbly Kyra and Bryant is the more easily mortified and reserved Morgan. On today’s show, Kyra’s invited Trevor, the cutest boy in school (Hutcherson). Kyra outs Morgan’s crush on Trevor, and as usual, Morgan quickly becomes the third wheel. Morgan is quickly emerging as a signature character for Bryant, and for as long as she’s been on the show, she needs one. Morgan is socially awkward and functions as that spirit animal character for like, every woman in her 20s on Tumblr. She’s incredibly GIF-able. Why isn’t she more popular? Anyway, Morgan is really funny and Girlfriends Talk Show is a super fun sketch that never fails.

Mr. Patterson

Hutcherson plays Craig, the new assistant to Mr. Patterson (Beck Bennett), a brilliant financial CEO who has the body of a baby. Bennett is so physically committed to this sketch, and Hutcherson is a real trooper — especially when Bennett’s throwing spaghetti all over him. This is one of those sketches where you just wish you were in the room when they came up with the idea and sold it because the conversations about it had to be even more hilarious than watching it. It’s not cerebral humor by any stretch — something about it feels very classic, but the credit really does belong to Bennett (and maybe to those kids from the AT&T commercials for inspiring him a little). It’s just super silly.

Matchbox 3

In this pre-recorded short, Hutcherson, Jay Pharaoh, and Kenan Thompson play “subway dancers” who are able to perform dances “within a three inch radius” of their bodies. They get in turf fights with tejano performers, dance in elevators, and highlight the trauma of losing a dancer in a crowded subway car (which apparently happens often). Of all the shorts this season, this is definitely one of their lesser efforts. It’s just a bit too slight.

Weekend Update

Aidy Bryant pops in with some helpful travel tips as new character “The Worst Lady on an Airplane,” complete with neck pillow. She brings everything in loose plastic bags, including her giant meal of Panda Express. She brings broccoli, which smells bad. She farts, which smells bad. She sleeps in the bathroom. She watches movies on a large laptop and laughs obnoxiously. She really is the worst. I can see this character improving on subsequent returns — and also, that wig could be great for a Paula Deen sketch.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on. No Drunk Uncle? What is a holiday episode without a visit from Drunk Uncle? Don’t get me wrong, I like a Weekend Update with only one guest visit, but this is a Thanksgiving episode! Granted, we saw him in September when Aaron Paul made that cute appearance as Meth Nephew but come on! He better come back for Christmas with Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy.

Josie’s On a Vacation

I’m pretty sure they can just end ‘SNL’ after this sketch tonight because it can’t get any better after this and the everything before this wasn’t so great. The premise: it’s the 80s, the ladies of ‘SNL’ are heading to the mall, but Vanessa Bayer is stopping to pick up her friend Josie, who wasn’t at school. Josie’s brother Devin (Hutcherson) answers the door, and when prompted, responds to every question with lyrics (played in sound clips) from The Outfield’s “Use Your Love” (which is, by the way, one of the greatest songs of all time). The costumes and hair are amazing, Bayer’s confusion over the lyrics is hilarious, and I am crying from laughing.

Best Buy Team Meeting

It’s been too long since Cecily Strong and Bobby Moynihan showed up as Dana and Niff! I’m not sure this recurring sketch has a name other than “team meeting,” but I love their crazy, obnoxious disses, like making fun of a co-worker’s “neck tattoo” (it’s a birth mark) and the orange stains on Beck Bennett’s mouth when he hasn’t had any orange foods. Killam also makes an appearance as Andrew, his recurring creepy smiling guy.

As much as I love this sketch, Hutcherson has been playing the straight guy a lot tonight with little exception (the lame Matchbox 3 short; the awesome 80s sketch), and hasn’t been standing out much. I’m sure he’s having a good time, but it would be nice to see him step outside of his comfort zone a bit.

Dancing

Tonight’s other short comes from Kyle Mooney, who is proving to be who the show hopes is the next Andy Samberg, I suppose, with his series of wacky shorts. In “Dancing,” Bennett finds his friend awkwardly dancing while ironing and proposes that he auditions to dance at a local club and makes him a video demo by tossing a tape at the TV. Mooney’s shorts always have just a tinge (just a TINY tinge) of that sort of ‘Tim and Eric’ subversive humor that the later sketches in the episode always veer toward. The 11th hour sketches are very hit or miss, but they’re always so risky and so out there, and they’re the most exciting — it’s exactly where someone like Mooney can really shine, and count me among his fans. Also, if you haven’t been watching him on Stephen Merchant’s ‘Hello, Ladies,’ which just ended its first season on HBO, you should catch up with that. He steals every scene when he gets the chance.

Animal Hospital

Right off the bat this sketch reminds me of the old Appalachian Emergency Room sketch with the accents. McKinnon, Strong (who sure is popping up in a lot of sketches after sitting it out for a while — not that I am complaining), and Hutcherson play doctors and nurses at an animal hospital who have to inform Aidy Bryant that her turtle, Captain Whatnot, is dead. Already, Hutcherson is playing a more exciting role than he has all night just by giving him a damn accent. The trio proceed to insensitively that their pets are also dead, with lots of repetition of the word “dead.” It’s pretty good stuff.

Bugs: Where the Heck Do You Gotta Be?

Mike O’Brien gets to do a new character in a brief short, which I guess could become a regular thing — he’s an investigative reporter who is tracking down random bugs (ants, roaches) on the street, asking them what their big rush is. He’s kind of like an overgrown man-child, and I could see this, way more than Bryant’s annoying traveler lady, developing into a recurring character with way more ongoing comedic value.

Note: My cable box had a random (or not so random — the winter weather has been bad here, for Texas anyway) reboot tonight, cutting off just before the last sketch. If it’s up online in the morning, I’ll update as soon as possible!

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