Judge Clark Douglas tries to avoid opening any mysterious boxes unless they are distinctly above or below the giver's waist. He's also wary of sharing popcorn.
"Put your junk in that box"—Lyrics from a popular Justin Timberlake song, and also a directive given to the folks that put this DVD together.
Is Saturday Night Live dead yet? Some would say so; some have been saying so for over a decade. It's certainly not anywhere near the level of the top-drawer SNL of the 1970s and 1980s, but every once in a while this tired old war horse will pull out a fresh joke or two. This compilation DVD, Saturday Night Live: The Best of '06/'07, offers a glimpse at the current status of the show.
The disc kicks off with Kristin Wiig as Nancy Pelosi, delivering an address to the nation. Wiig makes some jokes about all the bizarre sexual things that the Democrats are going to address while in power, and it's mildly amusing. However, the funniest thing about this sketch is the subtly hilarious physical comedy Wiig does while delivering her speech. The disc is structured as if the whole thing were an actual episode of SNL, meaning that this first sketch ends with Wiig saying, "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" We move from this introductory sketch into the monologue from Jake Gyllenhaal, which is quite peculiar. If you've ever wanted to see Gyllenhaal sing "And I Am Telling You" from Dreamgirls while wearing a sparkly dress, here you go.
The next guest host is Alec Baldwin, doing a pretty good Tony Bennett impression and hosting something called "The Tony Bennett Show." Things get pretty interesting when the real Tony Bennett shows up as a guest on the show. Baldwin has always been great on SNL, so his appearance here is certainly welcome. Yet another guest star turns up in the next sketch: Peyton Manning. Will Forte plays the coach of a basketball team that is getting beaten very badly. Forte's halftime speech fails to inspire the team, but a rousing rendition of Burt Bacharach's main theme from Casino Royale (the silly one with David Niven and Peter Sellers, not the Daniel Craig one) proves to be quite rousing. Nice.
Jake Gyllenhaal returns again to appear in a "Bronx Beat" sketch, featuring Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph as a couple of incredibly annoying talk show hosts from the Bronx. Gyllenhaal is a guest on the show, the author of a book who can't quite get a word in about his book. It's okay, though hardly a classic sketch. What might be the season's most popular sketch follows: Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake's iconic song "D—-- in a box," one of the more moving love ballads of recent times. In case you haven't seen it, it's about a couple of guys who give some unique gifts to their girlfriends. You can guess what that might be.
A very long compilation of "Weekend Update" segments with Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers from the '06/'07 season is featured here. Mixed between the one-liners (more hits than misses) are short sketches. The first features Fred Armisen as the judge from the Anna Nicole Smith case, which gets old after the first viewing. Kristen Wiig plays Aunt Linda, a movie critic who hates just about everything, and this isn't so great, either. However, Bill Hader's turn as Peter O'Toole ripping into Mark Foley is nothing short of priceless. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and call it the best thing on this DVD.
Dane Cook and Jason Sedakis lead a pretty weak sketch about airport security staff discussing the legal issues surround liquids and gels. Kenan Thompson fares considerably better in a fun sketch about an obscure show on MTV4 (oh, the horror). The best moments of this are a short song from Maya Rudolph called "Tiny Moves" and some very awkwardly funny moments between Thompson and Andy Samberg. SNL vet Julia Louis-Dreyfus turns up in a corny little sketch about unsuccessfully attempting to record a PSA for CBS. Maya Rudolph gets to sing again, doing the worst rendition of the national anthem ever heard. No, seriously.
Fred Armisen does his Donald Trump impression in a very brief sketch, featuring the very rich host of The Apprentice trashing Rosie O'Donnell. Jeremy Piven plays a long-suffering worker at an adoption agency who has to deal with "Two A-Holes," played quite annoyingly by Kristen Wiig and Jason Sedakis. The sketch has a couple of funny moments, but the characters are very grating-grating (as opposed to grating-funny). An extremely funny bit with Peyton Manning follows, featuring Manning running one of the cruelest and most unusual children's sports camps I've ever seen. A lame sketch with Ludacris is next, featuring Andy Samberg as a terrible rapper that Ludacris admires intensely. Another one of Samberg's digital shorts is next, and I like it even better than the "D—-- in a Box" sketch. It was inspired by the finale of Season Two of The O.C., and even if you haven't seen that, you're bound to get some real laughs out of this one. Finally, a very weak sketch about Hugh Laurie as a farting paranormal investigator closes out the disc, a very disappointing finish to the compilation.
There are a handful of decent extras on the disc for you to browse through after you're done watching the compilation. A couple of rejected sketches featuring Peyton Manning and Justin Timberlake are okay, and there are some genuinely funny outtakes from the "Weekend Update" segments. A full-length audio commentary featuring various members of the cast and crew can be listened to with the main feature. There are a lot of quiet spots, but some amusing stories about the creation of a few sketches. Visually, things look a little mundane, not considerably better than what this looks like on television. The 5.1 sound does come in handy during a few of the musical numbers, though.
The good news is that Saturday Night Live: The Best of '06/'07 is a reasonably fun way to spend 90 minutes. The bad news is that this is supposed to represent the finest moments of an entire season of the show. This might be considered pretty good if it were just one single episode, but there are an awful lot of low points for a highlight disc here. I can't say a whole lot of bad things about the actual content in this particular disc, but it's certainly a pretty damning statement about the status of Saturday Night Live these days. Whenever they finally getting around to releasing the complete season, you can just go ahead and pick up this disc as an alternate option. It will save you a lot of laugh-free hours. This DVD compilation is not guilty; the tired show it represents needs to serve some time.
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