While The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is giving the film series the spark it needs to turn more heads, the film’s co-star Josh Hutcherson didn’t exactly do the same on “Saturday Night Live” in the same weekend the sequel opened. While Hutcherson wasn’t terrible, he didn’t have much to do – with the exception of a couple of standout sketches.
Your Love – Josh Hutcherson may not have been the best at lip syncing the classic 80s tune “Your Love” by The Outfield, one of the best from that decade, but the premise of this sketch on its own made it one of the best sketches of the night. The sketch isn’t officially available online (though you can find it right here), but it’s pure 80s brilliance and fun. Honestly, it would be awesome if this came a recurring sketch with other familiar tunes from the 80s and 90s. After all, I think we were all surprised when the “Danny’s Song” sketch (difficult to find due to music rights) that began with Rainn Wilson became a recurring bit, just with different songs.
Office Boss – Finally, Beck Bennett stands out with something other than a fantastic impression. This is undoubtedly something that Bennett came up with on his own, and he’s just perfect at walking around like a giant baby. The sketch is a bit slapsticky and goofy, but Bennett really makes it work. Hutcherson also helps as the straight man, making for a solid moment when he gets out the keys to get his baby-bodied boss’ attention.
Bugs – All right, Mike O’Brien. You’ve been pretty lukewarm since joining “SNL” as a cast member as opposed to just a writer, but this one buys you some time to show your stuff. We’re not sure where the idea for this sketch came from, but it feels like an “SNL Digital Short,” something half the new cast members have been doing very well this season (see The Weird for this episode’s better but more odd example).
Matchbox 3 – While this might not make sense to everyone, a visit to New York City will clear everything up. Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson team up with Josh Hutcherson as some B-Boy dancers who performs on subway trains for tips, but this trio specializes in contained performances on crowded cars. Hutcherson didn’t really showcase any special dance moves, but he looked oddly comfortable in that track suit.
Animal Hospital – Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not sure if Josh Hutcherson is playing a masculine woman or a super gay man , or just the continued nonchalant addressing of dead animals, but I found this sketch to be supremely entertaining. Kudos for bringing a real rabbit and turtle in at the end.
Best Buy – This recurring bit with Bobby Moynihan and Cecily Strong can be hit or miss, but it does utilize pretty much every single member of the cast when it happens, which makes for some fun. This time Beck Bennett, Mike O’Brien, and Taran Killam were the real standouts in this skewering of Best Buy employees. We’re not sure what Josh Hutcherson was doing with his voice, but he can probably get away with never doing that again.
Thanksgiving Guest – Try to count how many jokes are in this sketch beyond the initial (flubbed) introduction of the premise. We’re pretty sure there’s only two real jokes here. This was one of the worst sketches of the season.
Girlfriends Talk Show – Of all the recurring sketches, this one seems to have truly run its course, and seems to fail more than succeed. Despite some solid character work by Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant, the pacing always seems off, and this one was no different. Hutcherson just had to play a handsome high school kid and get out of the way of Strong and Bryant.
Piers Morgan – Taking a cue from the headlines of the most recent arrest of George Zimmerman, this sketch was all over the place. What the hell is that Men’s Wearhouse bit at the end? Who thought that was even remotely funny?
Dancing – One of those sketches that is weird and fantastic, this was one of two sketches that felt like they could easily be given the tag of an “SNL Digital Short.” It just keeps getting weirder as Beck Bennett turns Kyle Mooney into a famous dancer without leaving the comfort of his apartment. This seems to be where Mooney excels the most, and Bennett has consistently helped him there.
Well, this felt like one of the shortest Weekend Update segments yet, which is a bit of a bummer (even if we thought Seth Meyers’ joke about the blocked sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life was pretty weak) and we could have done with some more Cecily Strong and Seth Meyers skewering headlines, if only because it felt like Aidy Bryant’s segment went on a little too long. Speaking of which…
The Worst Lady on an Airplane – This seemed to exaggerate a character that would have been better served taking cues from the real terrible people that travelers encounter on airplanes. While Bryant’s dedication to the woman’s outrageous nature was fine, the character itself just felt like too much, and didn’t hit the right notes to really get the big laughs.
Josh Hutcherson turned out to be just a pawn in this episode, which isn’t necessarily bad when the host isn’t well known for their comedic talents. Hutcherson really only got to shine in the Your Love and Animal Hospital, but he had some great moments in Matchbox 3 and Bugs; ultimately, this wasn’t bad for his hosting debut. We wish The Hunger Games would have gotten a better sketch rather than just the monologue segment, though it was pretty funny to have Hutcherson acknowledge his character’s weakness in the first film.
Beck Bennett – This is mostly because of Office Boss, but Bennett also crushed it in Dancing, and his small appearance in the Best Buy sketch. Aside from the few impressions that Bennett has done on the show, some of the amusement from his work comes from the stark contrast between his character on those AT&T commercials and most of the characters he plays on “SNL.” We’re hoping Bennett has more characters like that genius with the body of a baby that make it to air.
The Final Word
Though Josh Hutcherson didn’t turn out to be an amazing host, he certainly didn’t slow down the comedy, and delivered as best he could when called upon. Sometimes the best episodes are when the host just blends in with the cast, and doesn’t stand out because of their fame or public persona. In this case, we got an average episode with some pretty solid sketches, but the ones that failed bombed pretty hard.
We’ll be back with another recap following the December 7th episode with host Paul Rudd.
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