Review: Saturday Night Live, Dec. 19 with James Franco

By | December 21, 2009 at 12:38 pm | No comments | News, Reviews | Tags:

Dec. 19, 2009 — Host: James Franco — Musical Guest: Muse

“Make this the best SNL Christmas show of all time.” That was the final career suggestion host James Franco pulled from the lottery-like bin he employed during his monologue this weekend. “Not a chance,” he then admitted as he crumpled the paper and tossed it aside.

And that was no joke. As it turns out, nothing in the show remotely approached the genius of, say, John Malkovich destroying traditional Christmas poems, Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg singing about special presents, Alec Baldwin’s Schweddy Balls or Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah carol.

In other words, when “SNL” airs its Christmas classics special in years to come, as they did last Thursday, you aren’t likely to see a bit from this episode.

If anything earned the right to make the cut, however, it was the best sketch of the night: Bill Hader’s “Vincent Price Christmas.” It featured Franco as a sexually confused James Dean, Fred Armisen as an aggressively flirty Liberace and Kristen Wiig as an oddly hilarious Katharine Hepburn.

Even so, it wasn’t funny in the traditional premise-setup-punch line sense. The laughter came more from the sheer absurdity of watching Hepburn snap a wild animal’s neck and Liberace pleasuring Dean.

And that’s maybe the true thread that ran throughout the show: What the Fuck?… The “last show of the decade,” as Franco dubbed it during the farewells, was far weirder than it was witty, evidenced by a lot of twisted scripts.

In the digital short “Tizzle Wizzle Show,” a children’s show spoof that seems sweet as can be, Franco and cast members started as pj-ed cuties dancing around to the tune of “Jammy Shuffle,” and they progressed to pill-popping, knife wielding wackos.

The way too-close-for-comfort family, the Voglechecks returned, with Franco as a collegiate bringing his girl (Abby Elliott) home for the first time. It’s hard to cringe and chuckle at the same time, but somehow that’s what happens when Franco tongue-kisses Will Forte as the grandfather.

Further in the category of “What Up With That” there’s the fact that the dress rehearsal version of the Kenan Thompson-led soul-singing sketch was included in the week’s highlight clips along with the version that aired. The difference? Mike Tyson dancing like a happy fool.

Finally, and strangely enough, the true shining moments of the show come from musical act, Muse, which absolutely rocked the stage with “Uprising” from their latest album and “Starlight” from their last.

The show goes on hiatus until Jan. 9. The host will be Charles Barkley and musical guest will be Alicia Keys!

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Robin A. Rothman

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