Saturday Night Live Recap: Anna Kendrick & Pharrell Williams – April 5, 2014

Recap, Review and skit ratings for the Saturday Night Live (SNL) episode on April 5, 2014 featuring host Anna Kendrick and musical guest Pharrell Williams.

GM Hearing
This was a one-joke sketch through and through, but there were enough variations on that one joke to make it bearable. The highlights were the positively Orwellian “I am looking into knowing when I first knew about it” and the classic “Could you use it in a sentence?” The interruption of “Live from New York” has been done before, but it is done rarely enough that it is generally a treat whenever it is done. B

[smartads]

Anna Kendrick’s Monologue
When Anna mentioned her musical theater background, I groaned at the prospect of another song-and-dance monologue. But this was actually one of the best of that ilk in a while. With its off-stage interactions with the cast and crew, I even got vibes of Mike Myers’ return as host in 1997, one of the best monologues of all time. This one succeeded as well as it did because of a weird undercurrent of cruelty, what with Bobby telling Anna, “you gotta pace yourself, girl,” Kate asking Vanessa, “was that supposed to be a Scottish brogue?”, Anna telling Cecily that she loves her face and Taran that she loves him in the sketch where he has no lines, and Lorne ignoring Anna while she sang right next to him. B+

Fox and Friends
Kenan was actually trying with his Neil DeGrasse Tyson impression, and it was … half-decent. He had the tone right, but I’ve never heard Tyson laugh like that. Anyway, we all know what we’re getting from the Fox and Friends sketches at this point, and it is a hard formula to screw up entirely. “God loves figs” was my favorite correction. B-

Dongs All Over the World
I’m fine with ladies crudely singing about sex, but not this arrhythmically. Sexual Pokémon did get a laugh out of me, though. Icona Pop were just kind of there. C

The Little Mermaid

Remember The Little Mermaid sketch with Reese Witherspoon from 2001? Or the one with Tina Fey from 2011? I guess Lorne Michaels really likes Ariel and company. When Anna started laying it down like Iggy Azalea, I was like, “Did ‘Fancy’ become a huge hit while I wasn’t looking?” But, no, in fact, I don’t think it did. It looks like somebody just wanted to give thiat great club banger a shoutout. (Y’all should check it out. Its video is an homage to Clueless.) B-

Flirty (BEST SKETCH OF THE NIGHT)
It looks like America is finally ready for a Good Neighbor short to appear in the first half of an episode, and not a moment too soon! This one saw Kyle Mooney perfecting his persona of awkwardly working his way through romance while maintaining a positive outlook regardless of how things turn out, which we saw earlier in the Miley Sex Tape. In that one, Kyle was happy for his brother to have sex with Miley Cyrus, even though he missed out. This time, he is psyched to be going on a date with the neighbor he has a crush on despite the fact that his other (not-exactly-Good) neighbor, played by Beck Bennett, has just butted in to have sex with her. And it’s about time that skid marks are acknowledged on national television as a thing that everybody has to deal with. A-

Pharrell Williams performs “Happy”

This wasn’t the most boisterous performance Pharrell is capable of, especially considering what this song is all about. The dance breakdown with the two kids was great, though. B

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: Cecily is really starting to get into her persona. That conversation about the Memory Championship did a great job of making her sound like she was having a stroke. B-
-The Segments: -Angela Merkel: Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of Merkel as the girl caught between Obama and Putin still isn’t working for me, but I did appreciate her pronouncing “e-mail” as “ü-mail.” C+
-Brooks Whelan: Brooks showed the craziest part of his hand too soon and didn’t have anywhere to go except less crazy. C+
-George R. R. Martin: This was a pleasant enough segment, but the jokes were either too obvious (George is taking forever to write his books) or not weird enough (a lot of the next book will just be taking place in Denver). C+

Les Jeunes de Paris
The Les Jeunes sketches are like a really great improv session in which the individual elements are seemingly random, but they all manage to connect to the main idea. What would compel SNL, in 2014, to have a sketch that features Jean-Luc Picard saying, “Make it so,” the girls of Matilda walking by, and Ruby Rhod from The Fifth Element saying, “Viva la France!”? Yet somehow, it made perfect sense. B+

Booker T. Washington Zoo Field Trip

Jay Pharaoh deserves to be commended for his performance as Principal Frye, but these Booker T. Washington sketches need to have more of a purpose if they are going to continue to exist. “Hoping to create their own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles situation” definitely did get a laugh out of me, though. C+

Pharrell Williams performs “Marilyn Monroe” (with Hans Zimmer)
This is a perfectly Pharrell female empowerment anthem. B

Big Joe
An absurd passage of time like that at the end of this sketch will always amuse me, but this sketch needed a lot more fleshing out. C-

Pharrell Backup Singer Audition

This started out as a sketch about how Anna and Vanessa totally did not get that the song from Rent was about lovers, not sisters (Taran’s insistence was a highlight there), and then that was completely dropped so that it then became about how Pharrell was inexplicably enthralled with the less talented sister. This sketch reminded me of the Blizzard Man sketches, but this was nowhere near as good because Vanessa was neither as bad nor as weird as Blizzy B. And Pharrell is too mellow to have gotten bizarrely overexcited the way that Ludacris did over Blizz. I am not sure what the ultimate point of this sketch was, and thus it was ultimately rather strange, intentionally or not. Taran’s character suddenly wearing the hat at the end added to the whole surrealism, and in least in that case, the strangeness appeared intentional. B-

NCAA Tourney Best of the White Guys

The premise of this sketch was way off, considering that the recently announced National Player of the Year is a white guy. Still, I’ll give it a pass, because I am always amused when the fundamentals of basketball (bounce passes, helping a teammate up, and just making an honest effort) are presented as highlights. B+

Overall
Anna Kendrick loves to sing, and SNL was happy to oblige her, so good thing she’s good at it. Her vocals were never really the make-or-break element of any of the sketches, but they may have been a bit of a crutch in conceptualizing them. There were some unique ideas, but on the whole the show didn’t feel as experimental as it did with last week’s Louis C.K. episode. That’s fine, but it does make the middling material that much more forgettable. Meanwhile, the Good Neighbor crew of Kyle and Beck are really starting to take over the show.

Jeff Malone is a voracious entertainment consumer and entertainment creator. He currently resides in New York City, where he is working on a Master’s in Media Studies at The New School. In addition to his pieces on TMRzoo.com, you can check out his blog (jmunney.wordpress.com), where he provides regular coverage of Community and Saturday Night Live, as well as other television, film, music, and the rest of pop culture.