If Lionsgate wanted to pimp The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Josh Hutcherson — who plays Peeta Mellark in the film series — wouldn’t have been my first pick, but he gets the job done in this week’s SNL. Our host seems far more comfortable with the prerecorded segments than the live show, but he’s engaging enough otherwise. Will the writers rely on the film franchise for all their jokes? See what happened last night, below.
“Josh Hutcherson Monologue”
The writers get their obligatory Hunger Games jokes out of the way immediately. Noël Wells is happy to be chosen for the SNL version of the Games, because it means she gets more screen time. Here’s an idea: maybe SNL can stop making jokes about their underused cast members, and just give them more of the spotlight.
“Girlfriends Talk Show”
Aidy Bryant’s Morgan continues to be great fun, and the character has a chance to shine, as Cecily Strong’s Kyra plays a minimal role this week. Morgan does her awkward best at flirting (“Weird people are the best at romantic bedtime for private under the sheet fantasy moments.”), and her lines keep getting better while staying believable for the character (“She’s a witch with a ‘B’ in front!”).
Beck Bennett’s Mr. Patterson has the mind of a genius and the body of a baby. The actor’s physical comedy is top-notch here, and for the first time Bennett sticks out in my mind amongst the newbies.
Hutcherson, Kenan Thompson, and Jay Pharoah are B-boys trying to do their thing on a cramped subway. The guys’ dance moves (spirit fingers and “running neck”) are amusing for a hot minute.
“Weekend Update: The Worst Lady on an Airplane”
Aidy Bryant’s obnoxious lady on an airplane is ready for takeoff. She has a plastic bag for everything and a hot tuna sandwich with your name on it.
Clever and ridiculously fun use of The Outfield’s “Your Love,” which is a damn creepy song.
It’s time for your daily dose of Kyle Mooney digital happiness — this time with added ‘80s nostalgia. Applause for the nod to Stefon: “That’s the hottest nightclub in town. It has… DJs.”
I feel closer to Mike O’Brien’s brand of weird than Mooney’s, so I’m always happy to see him front and center. Here, he plays an investigative reporter talking to New York’s cockroaches: “Bugs, where the heck you gotta be?” Hutcherson plays his younger brother, a potentially better reporter, and looks like a young Marty Scorsese with those bushy eyebrows.
“Piers Morgan Cold Open”
SNL makes it clear that Florida is in the running to become the next circle of hell, and that George Zimmerman is a terrible person. Not sure we needed a cold opening to drive those points home. That’s what Florida Man is for.
The abusive employees from Best Buy are back — and still not funny — but I’m loving Mike O’Brien’s Edward Scissorhands goth wannabe and Taran Killam’s stalkery sociopath.
“Our Yelps are terrible,” and so is this sketch. Maybe I just don’t find dead animals funny (having them alive at the end didn’t help boost this bit, either), but I’m not a fan of the mean-spirited SNL segments.
Hutcherson’s character invites his new girlfriend over for Thanksgiving dinner to meet the family. Vanessa Bayer plays his ladylove. She’s a turkey (yes, the animal) who isn’t happy about eating her own kind. The surreal ending felt like watching a turkey’s fever dream. Whatever this was, it just felt flat.