The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Dwayne Johnson

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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson aces everything he does. From college football and professional wrestling, to music videos and blockbuster movies, Johnson’s charismatic personality and competitive drive quickly established him as a cut above the muscled lunkheads in Hollywood. G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu once described Johnson as “franchise Viagra” — a nickname that SNL riffed on during the actor’s opening monologue last night. If anyone could use a pick-me-up, it’s Saturday Night Live. See how Johnson’s appearance helped smooth over SNL’s uneven slate, below.

The Best

“The Rock Obama Cold Open”

I can’t recall enjoying an SNL political cold open this much in a long time. President Obama tackles Republican naysayers — and he’s angry. So angry, in fact, that his hulking alter ego The Rock Obama makes an appearance. Sasheer Zamata’s First Lady Michelle Obama gets her own rage-filled character, She-Rock Obama, played by Leslie Jones. Zapata and Jones sharing one character is pretty fantastic considering where the show was previously with its African-American cast (recall Kerry Washington’s appearance and how the actress played several black women in the same sketch?). It’s a small detail that makes a huge impact.

“Dwayne Johnson’s Franchise Viagra Monologue”

Johnson charms audiences during his song-and-dance monologue. With a lesser actor, this would be the episode’s most memorable moment, but Johnson has plenty of energy to go around.

“WWE Promo Shoot”

When wrestling trash talk turns into a Jerry Springer episode.

“New Disney Movie”

What’s terrifying is that I can totally imagine someone like Michael Bay remaking Bambi into a movie like this. Also “Wham Bam Bambi” is the new jam.

“Dinner Date”

No one can ruin an anniversary dinner like Johnson’s brotastic dude from jury duty (“I’m such a bag full of meatballs, babe!”) whose British girlfriend gives him all the boners — and he wants everyone to know.

“The Jungle”

One of SNL’s favorite (read: lamest) punchlines revolves around two guys kissing. “The Jungle” sketch uses the same premise, but there’s something about Pete Davidson’s aw-shucks demeanor, Kate McKinnon’s horny and desperate explorer, and Johnson’s enthusiasm that saves this sketch from disaster. We wind up laughing more at McKinnon’s pathetically lusty lady as Davidson’s character blocks her from every opportunity with Johnson’s hero.

“Weekend Update”

Olya Povlavsky is in the house with a bag full of one-liners that just don’t quit. And just when you thought you had tired of all the 50 Shades jokes: “50 Shades of Grey is about my teeth.” Kenan Thompson’s “Willie” follows, which feels like Olya-Lite and loses its momentum.

“Improv Show”

I could do without this sketch save for Kate McKinnon’s amazing Robert Durst impression.

“Circus”

“I don’t want to.”

The Worst

“Pep Boys”

Riffing on the Starbucks gender conversation stunt, SNL trades the coffee-maker for Pep Boys employees. Eh.

“Brogaine”

Bennett and Mooney can do better than this one-note sketch. The play on the real-life racist frat chant mentioned deserved more time, too.

“Cooking with Paul”

Johnson has a hard time holding it together during this sketch with Keenan Thompson as a child molester, but I didn’t. The gag about looking at taboo things on the computer while the chicken is cooking was probably only good for one laugh. Too long, SNL. Too long.

“Interrogation”

A good cop/bad cop sketch that starts out fairly strong, then falls apart (especially since the good cop is so dull).

Musical Guest: George Ezra