No one could quite figure out why Edward Norton hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend. Not because he isn't talented enough to (in fact, he's better at impressions than SNL's in-house impression guy Jay Pharoah) or that he isn't easy on the eyes (seriously, that guy is getting better looking the older he gets), but because he had absolutely nothing to promote. (Recent host Miley Cyrus, on the other hand, hijacked his opening monologue to announce that she'd be going on tour). But unlike last week's host Bruce Willis, who also had nothing to pimp except himself, Norton gave the material his all and helped turn out a halfway decent episode. That said, a lot of credit has to be given to musical guest Janelle Monae, a wildly entertaining performer who proves you can have style and substance.
Let's just hope it doesn't take Norton another 13 years of preparation or the occasional appearance in a Lonely Island music video to be convinced to come back. Here are the best and worst moments of this weekend's episode of SNL:
Best: Opening Monologue
On the bright side, they avoided the overused trope of having the host do a song-and-dance number. Instead, they had Norton show off his array of impressions, including Woody Allen and Sir Ian McKellen. On the not-so-bright side, they upstaged Norton with appearances from Alec Baldwin and Miley Cyrus. Still, it was all worth it for the phrase, "A three-wheeled bus careening towards a blown-out bridge" and the Lucille Lortel theater shout-out.
Best: Autumn's Eve Commercial
Another week, another round of taped segments besting the live ones. Case in point: the latest in a long line of wildly inappropriate but hilarious commercials. This time it's for "Autumn's Eve," a feminine douche product cashing in on the whole pumpkin spice craze each fall. It's a delightful takedown of those absurd commercials targeted at women, though it may ruin pumpkin- and peppermint-scented everything for you.
Best: The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders
This absolutely was a brilliantly spot-on takedown of the kitschy, quaint, quirky world of Wes Anderson. Everything from his precocious fonts to his precocious characters to his precocious stop motion mice was all lovingly mocked in the fake trailer for his "latest," a precious little horror movie called The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders. Norton (who will next be seen in, wouldn't you know, Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel) does a jaw-droopingly great impression of Anderson perennial Owen Wilson, while Baldwin took on narrator responsibilities for a fake movie that we -- and the New York Times -- would totally watch in real life.
Best: Diego's Dad's Halloween Candy
I have no idea what the point of this sketch was (was Diego's dad hosting some kind of deranged talk show from the comfort of his own home?), but it was no matter with this bizarre, but very funny saving-the-best-for last bit. Norton played a suburban dad-turned-John Waters caricature who has some very naughty things to say about Halloween candy.
Worst: 12 Days Not a Slave
Maybe it's because I saw 12 Years a Slave earlier this week and I'm still too gutted from it to even find anything making fun of it remotely enjoyable, or maybe it's because they brought back Miley Cryus again to have her twerk in a sketch about post-slavery life, but I squirmed and grimaced my way through this. Or maybe it was because the all-around terrible sketch wasn't just poorly executed, it was also plain not funny.
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