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Saturday Night Live Review: “Jonah Hill/Bastille” (Episode 39.12)

January 26, 2014  |  8:32pm
<i>Saturday Night Live</i> Review: &#8220;Jonah Hill/Bastille&#8221; (Episode 39.12)

After hosting Saturday Night Live three times, Jonah Hill has become an enjoyable guest whenever he pops by, yet honestly, I can hardly remember anything about his prior appearances. I knew I had his six-year-old Adam Grossman character to look forward to, but all I can truly remember is that he’s a fun host without many memorable moments. On this third appearance on SNL, Hill does get a few memorable bits, but mostly the material stays forgettable.

Thankfully, right off the bat, “Jonah Hill/Bastille” gets the worst bit out of the way, with the U.S. Men’s Heterosexual Figure Skating Championships. I was pretty much disinterested by the title alone, and the outcome didn’t do much to help. Straight guys wear jerseys, cargo pants who can’t really skate while they try to take up skirt photos of their skating partners. Boo, no thanks.

That opening monologue though, hell yes. As you’ve probably heard by now, Leonardo DiCaprio  shows up to calm down Jonah Hill by recreating moments from Titanic. After two dark, yet funny performances in the last year with Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wall Street, DiCaprio has really showed he can be quite funny. (By the way, it is somewhat shocking that DiCaprio has never actually hosted SNL before. Taran Killam’s Brad Pitt impression during the monologue also reminded me that neither has Pitt. C’mon.)

It didn’t take long for Adam Grossman to show up at Benihana once again. Missed opportunity SNL: have DiCaprio come out as Jordan Belfort screaming about Benihana. I always appreciate when a host has a recurring character, and Grossman is always enjoyable, especially with Vanessa Bayer as his stepmom.

The first short of the night was called The Hit, where Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharaoh and Killam are ready to shoot up some guys, but are distracted by the beautiful snow and discussing how they’d like to be at home in an oversized sweater listening to Carole King, before Pharaoh notices a bunny and gets shot. I mean, I guess with a skit like The Hit, it had to end with someone getting shot, but it didn’t really match the tone the bit was going for.

Couples Quiz! seemed like it would be a typical SNL game show, yet before the game even begins, Thompson as the host verbally interrogates his guests about who clogged the toilet backstage. Hill does a fine job here, as he does the embarrassed, nervous guy quite nicely. Also Hill’s chemistry with Cecily Strong was fun to watch, as she was his cohort in most of his skits throughout the night.

Bastille’s first performance of “Pompeii” was fine, if you like their Gregorian Chants-meets-generic-rock sound. Their second song, “Oblivion,” was much quieter and weaker, with lead singer Dan Smith struggling to reach the high notes. I hope Bastille is one of those bands that we look back at and are like, “Oh man, Bastille was on SNL once? That’s crazy. Remember them?” You know, like Karmin.

Weekend Update was especially great, and it’s a shame since it looks like Seth Meyers and Strong are really starting to find their dynamic. The two were especially fun after Strong does an impression of a drunk Scottish fish. Weekend Update got two strong guests, first Thompson as Frank Medina, the Miami cop that arrested Justin Bieber. Thompson’s nails the delivery of every line—even just saying Cecily’s name—and his lack of surprise because Miami is crazy worked great. Next was Kate McKinnon as Olya, who lives in a Russian village, to come talk about the Sochi Olympics. it should be getting old by now, but McKinnon with any accent is strangely still hilarious. 

The rest of the night just simmered out with a few bright spots. Strong and Hill reunited for a skit at a ranch that got old incredibly quick. Another one-note joke had Hill going to his boss’ house for dinner and yelling at himself in a nearby bathroom whenever he felt he was blowing it. This one worked better because it nailed Hill’s ability to be incredibly embarrassed in such a funny way, but it also went on a bit long.

A Her parody for a movie called Me, where the OS is just like the person who uses it was pretty accurate, almost bordering into spoiler territory, and Michael Cera as a surrogate for the OS was a nice surprise. We also get another Kyle Mooney & Beck Bennett short, this one for, I guess a talk show? called Inside SoCal, where the two of them do reports from local parties. Not much works, and Bennett’s bro impression is becoming his go-to thing at this point.

The episode ended on a strong note with the two former porn stars coming back, saying horrible things and Jonah Hill showing up as Martin Porn-Cese. Somehow this one never gets old either, even though it does follow a fill-in-the-blanks template that doesn’t change. But hey, so does Drunk Uncle, and that will never get old, right? Right.

Once again, Jonah Hill does a fine job hosting, and I think he could’ve easily been a fun member of the cast years ago, had he not been sucked into the Apatow machine. Unfortunately, too many jokes in the episode didn’t have any meat to them, often relying on one joke, then getting out before it grew too tiresome.

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