SNL Ranked: Matthew McConaughey Is Just Okay, Okay, Okay
Alright, alright, alright (okay I’ll stop). Matthew McConaughey returns to the SNL stage this weekend for the first time since 2003. After last week’s excellent and very consistent episode, Elizabeth Banks proves a tough act to follow. McConaughey is his usual charming self, but those talents are sadly misapplied in a fairly uneven episode with a couple of really good pre-recorded bits. Read on for our ranking of this week’s sketches from best to worst.
Star Wars Auditions (Abrams, Ridley, Strong, Pharoah, Bennett, Boyega, McKinnon, Stone, Bryant, Moynihan, Killam, Pharoah, Mayer, Buble, Hamm, Jones)
It never crossed my mind that SNL might revive these for The Force Awakens, but of course they did, and it’s wonderful. Introduced by J.J. Abrams himself, the new crop of auditions features actual Star Wars actors John Boyega and Daisy Ridley along with special guests like Jon Hamm (Hamm Solo!) and Emma Stone (who effectively mocks her controversial role in Aloha). There’s plenty of great stuff, and while it doesn’t totally live up to the classics, it will give you things you never knew you wanted — like Leslie Jones as a Klingon and Jay Pharoah as Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod in The Fifth Element.
A Thanksgiving Miracle (Bennett, Bayer, Strong, Bryant, Pharoah, McKinnon, McConaughey)
If your family members’ Facebook posts are any indication, recent political events are going to make your Thanksgiving pretty uncomfortable. But there is one thing that brings first world people together: Adele. This is almost like one of the writers thought, “Okay, what if we did a sketch that’s like the Beetlejuice dinner scene, but replace dinner with Thanksgiving, and Calypso with Adele, and Tim Burton with Werner Herzog.” Basically I’m 100 percent certain this was designed for me.
Look at McConaughey charming us with the origins of his famous “alright, alright, alright” line in Dazed and Confused, which is also a pretty cute making-of story. I have a feeling he’s told this one before.
3D Printer Man (Strong, McConaughey, Killam, Bennett, Thompson, Bryant, Zamata, Rudnitsky)
This sketch is as awkwardly-paced as McConaughey’s 3D-printed human-bot, but damned if his weird machine language answers didn’t crack me up. It’s so dumb, and yet “That’s cool and smooth like a real sunglasses guy” is kind of amazing. But still very dumb. But still funny.
Fox and Friends: Syrian Refugee Crisis Cold Open (Moynihan, Bayer, Killam, McKinnon, Pharoah, Jones)
Political cold opens are always hit or miss, though this season has been batting a fair average so far. Fox & Friends is always a safe bet, and while this week’s open goes on a tad too long (don’t they all?), Bobby Moynihan delivers doofy gold as usual — this time mistaking Syria for Siri. Jay Pharoah continues to hone his Ben Carson impression, which is hilariously starting to seem like a vaguely perverse caricature of Nosferatu. No fact check this week (boo!), but #AllFridaysMatter.
Right Side of the Bed (Strong, Killam, McConaughey, Bryant, McKinnon)
This is not my week. I’ve never been a fan of these characters. Strong and Killam as a married couple with their own morning show, and Strong acting willfully ignorant to her husband being very obviously gay. I wish even weird hillbilly hippie chef McConaughey waving a raw turkey around was enough to save this. It’s not.
Should You Chime in On This? (Thompson, McConaughey, Bryant, Mooney)
It’s the proven SNL game show format: grab three contestants, challenge them with questions about social issues / culture, have Kenan Thompson appropriately react with disappointment in the perpetual stupidity / ignorance of the contestants. It’s always the same, and every once in a while it’s really great (Black Jeopardy), but this isn’t one of those times. Can we just watch the Adele thing again? It basically covered the same topic.
Weekend Update (Jost, Che, Bayer, Thompson)
After some soft material on Syrian refugees, Bayer drops by with a new character: a 12-year-old Disney Channel actress who won a “Newscasters of Tomorrow” contest. She has an insanely positive, musical attitude and while her terrible segues are pretty good, I miss Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy.
Thompson also stops in as baseball player David Ortiz, and I am not going to pretend I know anything about sports. I assume this is funny to some people.
Easily the best part of this week’s Update has Che and Jost reading jokes that they wrote for each other, with neither of them knowing what’s been written for them. It’s cute, but this is a mostly mediocre week.
Town Hall Meeting (Killam, Bennett, Moynihan, McConaughey, Bryant, Davidson, Thompson)
McConaughey is once again miscast, this time in the role of a local wise guy type protesting a new transportation plan at a town hall meeting. It’s like no one at SNL knows what to do with McConaughey, who is often a very good actor when playing to his strengths, but almost every sketch throws him away in the most baffling, boring and useless roles. These aren’t actual character concepts — they feel like random adjectives pulled out of a hat at the last minute to give their guest host something to do. (It’s also the first and only time we see Pete Davidson this week.)
Blues Shack (Thompson, McConaughey, Pharoah, Mooney, Jones)
Oh, cool, a sketch from 1991. McConaughey’s musician sits in with a blues band at a bar. Thompson sings about real problems, McConaughey sings about white people problems like fantasy football. This ran right after that great Adele sketch and feels like a total funny bone-killer.