Quvenzhane Wallis began the week as a long-shot candidate for an Oscar as best actress. While she certainly stole the hearts of Oscar viewers with her trademark smile and dual-arm pumps, she couldn't stop the Jennifer Lawrence Express.
The 9-year-old star of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" then unwilling was drawn into a controversy courtesy of "The Onion's" Twitter feed. No need to go into details.
On this week's "Saturday Night Live," she found herself in a new and unexpected role as head of the Roman Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome after being selected as the next Pope during a "CNN Special Report" - complete with the mumbling Wolf Blitzer (Jason Sudeikis). Host and comedian Kevin Hart (most notably of "Scary Movie" series fame) played Wallis after she assumed the Papacy. Hart also sported some impressive guns of his own while mimicking Wallis' signature pose in greeting his/her flock.
The sketch was both a harbinger and pretty good summary of this week's effort - lots of potential and originality, but nothing much on the back end when it came to laughs. The idea was certainly original enough - a 9-year-old, female, African-American Pope who may or may not be Roman Catholic. The effort was there, especially with the very funny and dynamic Hart playing Wallis playing the Holy Father (Daughter?). Put the real Wallis into something like this, and you're looking at comedic gold. Instead, we were asked to make one leap of faith too many. In real life, the only qualifications for Pope are that he must be a Roman Catholic male. So that leaves the field open for lots of surprises, just not little Quvenzhane.
There's plenty of room here for Catholics to feel angered or insulted, especially with the demeaning remarks about the Church made throughout the sketch. No need here. In this case, the sketch landed in its own version of comedic purgatory thanks to a lack of laughs, as did this week's show. Perhaps it was some sort of heavenly payback for "Djesus Uncrossed" two weeks ago.
Hart's opening monologue told the tale of his unsuccessful audition for "SNL." Sometimes something that should be funny and could be funny just isn't funny.
The comedic highpoint came with the cold opening - as President Obama (Jay Pharoah) detailed some of the impending doom-and-gloom cuts coming our way thanks to sequestration. The President opted to discussed to sequester in "human" terms since "I have no idea how money or budgets work."
Among the austerity measured planned by the White House, cutting Michelle Obama's weekly national TV appearances down to four their current level of "75." Air traffic controllers will have to watch a 20-second Doritos commercial before turning on their screens. The address concluded with an ode to the "Village People." We also learned that American astronauts will be heading into space without glass on their helmets (even though there are no more American astronauts heading into space from this hemisphere) and that several horses from the National Zoo in Washington were being sold to Taco Bell and Ikea.
Starbucks was also torn to shreds (Note: In a spot that had aired previous). It's Verismo home system was pitched in a commercial that featured the single-brew machine that came complete with the attitude of a typically apathetic barista. This one didn't care when the machine produced tea instead of a latte and had a co-worker to add a few insults to the customer in her own home. Anyone who grew up in Massachusetts knows that you never have those problems at Dunkin' Donuts, whether via a machine or in person.
BFFs North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (Bobby Moynihan) and Dennis Rodman (Pharoah) stopped the "Weekend Update" desk to talk about Rodman's recent trip to North Korea. But even that one threw up a brick. Hart joined Seth Meyers for a "Really" segment trashing Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia's reference to Voting Rights Act act as a "racial entitlement." Hart's best line: "Having one black friend is more racist than no black friends."
The satirical and political impact was dulled a bit thanks to the fact that Hart flubbed several lines straight off the cue cards. It's hard to ignite passion or indignation in the audience through sarcasm when you're given the words to say and still get can't them straight.
Hart got a few more laughs as a zombie who played off the white guilt and misunderstandings of his white friends in a "Walking Dead" sketch that saw him take a few bites out of Maggie. Again, another great idea that just didn't click. Hart's "loud-angry-slightly-hyper-guy" act was a staple in every sketch he appeared in, whether it fit or not.
The music guests were You Tube sensations Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who should have stuck to You Tube.
Justin Timberlake sings and hosts next week. We will expect a quick recovery.
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