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Case Number 07096: Small Claims Court

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Saturday Night Live: The Best Of Tom Hanks

Lionsgate // 2005 // 86 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // June 29th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Mitchell Hattaway longs to join the SNL Compilation Disc Review Five Timer's Club.

The Charge

Disco, disco! Good, good!

The Case

Tom Hanks has hosted Saturday Night Live seven times in the past twenty years, so I guess it was only a matter of time before he received his own compilation disc. As is usually case with these releases, you have to wonder how some of the selections made the cut, and there are a couple of glaring omissions, but overall this is a pretty decent package.

Eighteen clips are included here:

• "A Male Figure Skater's Flawed Performance in Tight Pants"
This one's not funny, with the possible exception of Phil Hartman's fey announcer. I imagine it's here simply because it opened the original broadcast, and they couldn't get by without a sketch containing the line.

• "Tom Hanks Joins the Five-Timers Club"
Classic bit from December 1990. Tom's fifth stint hosting the show allows him to become a member of an elite club of popular hosts. Other members include Elliot Gould, Steve Martin, and Paul Simon (whose wife was that night's musical guest); features a funny bit by Ralph Nader and an appearance by now-former show writer Conan O'Brien.

• "Wayne's World"
Hanks plays Garth's cousin Barry, who is a roadie for Aerosmith. Barry convinces the band that appearing on Aurora, Illinois's most famous cable access show will help publicize their upcoming concert. Garth freaks out, Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton debate the fall of communism, and the band performs a special version of the Wayne's World theme.

• "Mr. Short-Term Memory"
Hanks is the title character, who's out on a date with Victoria Jackson. Six minutes of variations on the same joke, although Phil Hartman is funny as a quietly seething waiter, and the bit where Hanks wonders why he has someone else's pre-chewed food in his mouth is good for a laugh.

• "Spartan Cheerleaders"
I've always hated these sketches, and this one is no exception. Hanks, portraying the Spartan Spirit, doesn't even show up until halfway through, and by then it's too late to salvage the skit. I get the feeling this one's here just so there'd be as much Will Ferrell footage on the disc as possible.

• "Tales of Ribaldry"
Hanks is a traveling bootblack who encounters a randy wench (Victoria Jackson) and her equally randy mistress (Jan Hooks). Funny stuff, especially Jon Lovitz as segment host Evelyn Quince, who naturally becomes angry when Hanks and the ladies decide to engage in a threesome.

• "Weekend Update"
More Will Ferrell (this time heard but not seen), but this one's actually funny. Ferrell provides the voice of Wilson the Volleyball, Hanks's Cast Away co-star. Wilson offers Tina Fey ten grand for a pair of her panties, refers to Hanks as "a dick," and talks about meeting Andy Dick and a crate of tennis balls at Nobu; Hanks, who wasn't the host that night, steps in when Wilson takes things a little too far.

• "Two Sad Guys Want to Score with the Ladies"
The first appearance of Hanks and Lovitz's sad sack characters ("Hel-lo…and good-bye."). This one's okay, but a couple of years later they went to their high school reunion. That was a funnier sketch.

• "Tom Hanks Bullying Kids: Never-Before-Seen Outtakes from the Movie Big"
I've always liked this one. Hanks introduces footage from the original cut of Big. Seems in the original version, Tom's character stayed in junior high and used his new body to terrorize the other kids. (I love it when he repeatedly knocks down the catcher during the baseball game.)

• "Roxbury Guys"
Let's beat this dead horse some more. Hanks plays yet another Butabi brother, and you can pretty much guess what happens. (How the hell did these guys warrant a movie?)

• "The Guy Who Plays Mr. Belvedere Fan Club"
This one's hit-or-miss, although there are two great lines. This one's from Chris Farley: "I wanna meet this girl, and, uh, I know that she'd be, y'know, pretty impressed if, uh, she knew I hung out with Mr. Belvedere." Even better is this one, courtesy of Adam Sandler: "I should like watching Mr. Belvedere a lot, but I shouldn't have to masturbate at the end of every episode."

• "Comedians"
Hanks, Lovitz, and Damon Wayans are comedians waiting backstage at Caroline's Comedy Store; they're all observational comics whose stage personas carry over into their everyday lives. There's some funny stuff here, but it's more valuable as evidence Wayans actually was on the show.

• "Sabra Price is Right"
Another sketch from May 1992, when Hanks was called in to pinch hit for original host Joe Pesci (great show—Springsteen was the musical guest). This one, for me, is worth the price of the disc. Hanks is the host of a game show on which the contestants guess the price of an item and are then expected to pay that amount. This one's full of great stuff, from Hanks telling Sandler to watch Chris Rock, to the cheap antenna masquerading as a satellite dish, right on down to Hanks's reaction to seeing Dana Carvey called down to be a contestant.

• "Steve's Fantasy"
Hanks and his wife (Joan Cusack) are having dinner on their eighth anniversary. She thinks they've been together so long she now knows everything about him, but is shocked when he goes into a detailed description about the life he'll lead once she's dead.

• "Jew, Not a Jew"
A killer sketch that sat around for a few years because NBC's Standards and Practices wouldn't allow it on the air. Contestants on a game show hosted by Hanks are asked to determine whether or not certain celebrities or other public figures are Jewish. Remember, "Jew, Not a Jew is brought to you by Feldman's Kosher Pickles. You don't have to be Jewish to like Feldman's, but it helps."

• "The Bean Cafe: We Only Serve Beans"
Pretty much what it sounds like: Hanks owns a cafe at which he only serves beans. Thinly veiled fart jokes abound.

• "Anniversary Show Monologue"
Hanks performed the monologue on the 25th Anniversary Special, part of which is featured here. Tom takes questions from audience members Christopher Walken (who claims he just wings it whenever he hosts) and Jon Lovitz (who won't rest until Hanks says he was his favorite cast member). You can also catch a glimpse of Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry in a tuxedo, which is the damnedest thing I've seen in a long time.

In addition to these, you also get two sketches that were taped during dress rehearsals but weren't performed during the live broadcasts. The first of these is "The Penis Sketch," which is little more than excuse to see how many times the word "penis" can be crammed into one sketch, and, as such, is fairly amusing. (Although it didn't appear on the 1988 Hanks show, it was used during a show Matthew Broderick hosted a few weeks later.) The second sketch is "Mary Katherine Gallagher's Macbeth Rehearsals," which isn't amusing. (I'm not sure if this one ever made it to air, as I usually flipped over to Cinemax whenever Mary Katherine made an appearance. How the hell did she warrant a movie?)

Like I said, there's some good stuff here, as well as some head-scratchers. Personally, I'd dump the Roxbury idiots, the cheerleaders, and the cafe, then substitute "The Sabra Shopping Network," "Classic Sing-Along with the Drunken Asses," and "The Global Warming Christmas Special" (in which Hanks did an incredibly funny Dean Martin impression); that would add up to ninety minutes of primo Hanks material. Then again, nobody asked me.

Picture quality is marginally better than the original broadcasts, with the more recent clips naturally coming off best. The stereo sound won't bowl you over, but it gets the job done. Other than the two bonus sketches, extras include a completely unnecessary photo gallery.

Find it cheap and this isn't too bad of a deal. Not quite party time, not quite excellent, but still a fairly good batch of sketches. Besides, you could do a lot worse—you could pick up the Jimmy Fallon disc. (Please don't.)

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 83

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Photo Gallery
• Two Dress Rehearsal Sketches

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