Jennifer Lawrence -- newly minted A-list star of The Hunger Games and current Oscar nominee for Silver Linings Playbook -- made her first appearance in the battle arena known as Saturday Night Live over the weekend. And just like her alter ego, Katniss Everdeen, she didn't get off to the smoothest start, botching her opening monologue (the Best Actress smackdown was a decent idea, but Lawrence seemed too nervous to really execute it) and struggling through the first few (admittedly terribly written) sketches. But around the halfway mark, she found her groove and finished strong with some pretty funny material. Here's a rundown on Lawrence's losers and winners:
Girlfriend Talk Show
One of our least favorite new recurring sketches -- even though it features one of our favorite new SNL cast members, Cecily Strong, who is like what Abby Elliott could have been if she was capable of more than just a semi-decent Zooey Deschanel impression -- fell flat out of the gate by casting the bubbly Lawrence as a dour goth teen who thinks she's a lot cooler and edgier than she actually is. With someone like Aubrey Plaza, this sketch might've worked. With Lawrence, it just lay there, gasping for life.
Lawrence's Worst Line: "Guinea pigs are gross. Don't they, like, poop little pellets?"
Hunger Games Press Conference
You knew this one was coming, although, honestly, The Hunger Games came out so long ago, a more timely skit would have riffed on Silver Linings Playbook instead. (We bet Tarran Killam does a killer Bradley Cooper impression.) Once again, Lawrence just couldn't seem to get into the rhythms of this sketch, playing the straight woman role a little too straight. Of course, the lazy writing didn't exactly help. (A steroids gag... really?) The whole thing just felt obligatory, rather than funny.
Lawrence's Worst Line: "Well, you gotta give a lot of credit to the wasps. They were great."
Again, this sketch felt as though the writers thought they were scripting lines for Aubrey Plaza and then learned at the last minute that Lawrence would be hosting instead. Obviously, her waitress at the retro diner was supposed to be sadistic instead of sassy, but even the audience seemed put off by Lawrence's poker-faced cruelty. Next time, she attempts dark comedy, she should take lessons from Plaza in the art of the eye-roll.
Lawrence's Worst Line: "The saddest part is that you know that all you are is garbage."
After a run of good sketches, this Civil War skit ended Lawrence's night on a literal down note as she traded a series of crude, unfunny letters with her lover at the front. Even Bill Hader's Abe Lincoln cameo couldn't save it.
Lawrence's Worst Line: "You know, I feel I must address this tit pic issue."
We're on record as mostly loving The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, protracted length and all. Still, we laughed like drunken dwarves during this send-up of Peter Jackson's ultra-expanded take on Tolkien's slender fantasy adventure. (For the record, we'd totally watch Hobbits 14: The New Batch.) And Lawrence rocked Galadriel's elven ears like nobody's business. If Jackson ever does another three-part prequel, she's our pick to play the young Cate Blanchett.
Lawrence's Best Line: "We shared a desert!"
Top Dog Chef
Obviously dreamed up at 3 AM the night before the show under the influence of some awesome drugs, this canine-themed send-up of Top Chef was brazenly stupid, filled with terrible puns (i.e. Padma Leash Me and Mario Barktali)... and really pretty funny. It also gave Lawrence her best outfit of the night.
Lawrence's Best Line: "This is my take on brunch: it's an egg shell, a candy bar wrapper and a piece of cat food."
B-108 Morning Show
Playing wanna-be rapper Busty Rhymes -- who can follow a beat, but can't rhyme to save her life -- Lawrence made what's always been a reliable recurring sketch even better. (Although Vanessa Bayer's world-weary resignation as newsreader Karen a.k.a. MC Jigglebutt remains the best thing about the skit.) Here's hoping Katniss gets her own rap song in Catching Fire.
Lawrence's Best Line: "It's the flu season/So you're gonna have issues/If you get the sniffles/Get a big box of Kleenex."
Danielle: A Free European Woman
A dead-on parody of '70s European soft core flicks (complete with terrible dubbing and soft focus lensing), Danielle smartly cast Lawrence as the virginal Emmanuelle-like heroine. We're not sure anyone under the age of 40 understood it, but we appreciated its authenticity.
Lawrence's Best Line: "We were on the beach, and seals gathered all around us. Loud, smelly seals. I laughed as if I were at the zoo."
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