The last time Christina Applegate hosted Saturday Night Live was back in 1993 when she was gaining a lot of attention for her appearance on the edgy sitcom, Married with Children. As the actress pointed out during her monologue, that marked the first appearance of the late Chris Farley as Matt Foley, motivational speaker, who lived in a van down by the river.
The good news is that Ms. Applegate didn’t need one of the best casts from the ’90s to bring another solid show to Studio 8H, and we’ve compiled the highlights from her SNL appearance below.
Taken Trailer – I’m not sure why the sketch isn’t titled the name of the fake movie Give Us All Our Daughters Back, but that doesn’t stop this parody of movies featuring the angry parents of kidnapped children in an Expendables-style action movie from being hilarious. Jay Pharoah gets to display his stellar Denzel Washington impression, there’s a solid throwback to Mel Gibson (who starred in both Ransom and Edge of Darkness) and a plain old silly appearance by Bobby Moynihan as Steven Seagal.
Vice Presidential Debate – It’s definitely good that Jason Sudeikis decided to stick around this season. Not only does he serve well as Mitt Romney, but this cold open featuring the Horrible Bosses star as Vice President Joe Biden just continues to show his great work on SNL. In addition, Taran Killam really made an impression as Paul Ryan, complete with that trademark widow’s peak. They used a decent amount of real dialogue from the debate itself, with some standard exaggerated moments focusing on the heated banter between Biden and Ryan. Extra points for the Usain Bolt cameo.
Principal Frye: Hell-oween Bash – Jay Pharoah brings back Principal Frye at another high school bash gone haywire. Created as a parody and tribute to his Indian River High School principal, Jimmy Frye, this is a great original and kooky character that should become more mainstream. These kind of talking to the unseen crowd sketches are hit or miss, but Pharoah’s character makes it work and is made all the more genuine by the clear love he has for the man from his childhood. Plus, it was awesome to see Pharoah break character and lose composure for the first time.
Gilette: Masters of Style – By now you should have seen the Gilette commercial featuring the strange assembly of Adrien Brody, Gael Garcia Bernal and Andre 3000. Aside from the fact that they’re all famous, we’re not sure why all these guys are hanging out unless they like trimming their finely tuned facial hair together. Anyway, this sketch just duplicates the commercial with some goofy looks from Taran Killam, Fred Armisen and Jay Pharoah, and inexplicably adds in Jason Sudeikis as Jerry Sandusky. Other than the initial surprising appearance, there’s not much point to his showing up in the commercial, and it falls flat on its cleanly-shaven face.
Choreographer – This felt like a sketch that was written for Kristen Wiig awhile back, but she never got around to doing it. However, Christina Applegate definitely put herself into the silly Fosse-like dance choreographer and pulled off some solid physical comedy. Otherwise, this was just a strange sketch (after all, it was in the 10-to-1 timeslot) that belonged on a Nickelodeon or Disney sketch comedy show.
Christina Applegate – It’s always great when a seasoned and enthusiastic comedy star takes the stage with the cast of Saturday Night Live and the opening monologue certainly proved that. (Though, it’s hard to go wrong with a musical opening for the host.) After Applegate’s turn in films like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Going the Distance - not to mention her starring role on the NBC series Up All Night - it’s surprising she hasn’t hosted for a second time until now. She brought a lot of charisma and charm to the table, and something tells me that if she wasn’t busy with movies and her own show, she would be on Saturday Night Live.
Jason Sudeikis & Jay Pharoah - It was hard to choose a standout from this week’s episode, as everyone had an equal presence and impact in the best sketches. But there were two great moments for both Pharoah and Sudeikis that have them tying for The MVP slot. Sudeikis nailed the cold open as Joe Biden and made a weird but hilarious appearance as Dane Cook in the aforementioned musical opening monologue, while Pharoah’s second round as Principal Frye and his trusty Denzel Washington sketch made our picks for the best sketches of the night.
The Final Word
After last week’s somewhat dull episode featuring the dramatic Daniel Craig, it was refreshing to have a natural comedy star as host. Though I was hoping Applegate’s Up All Night co-star and SNL alum Maya Rudolph would show up, there wasn’t really a place that would have allowed her to do so without it feeling forced. Either way, it’s always great to see talent like this return to Studio 8H after spending nearly 20 years away. Since Applegate hosted in 1993, her career has truly blossomed and she helped ring in a solid but not spectacular episode.
Bruno Mars will serve as host and musical guest on October 20th.
Saturday Night Live airs live on Saturday nights at 11:30pm on NBC.