‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: Season 40, Episode 16 with Host Dwayne Johnson

By March 30, 2015
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Dwayne Johnson has energized the likes of the G.I. Joe franchise, the Fast & Furious films and is now one of the biggest action stars working today. And yet again he’s proved he can pretty much do anything by returning to host “Saturday Night Live” for a fourth time and knocking it out of the park. This is not only likely the best episode of the season, but one of the best episodes in recent memory, period. So let’s get to the funny stuff.

The Best

New Disney Movie – With all the live-action remakes of Disney classics happening, now is the perfect time for this sketch. But what makes it even better is the Fast & Furious style of this reboot of Bambi, with Dwayne Johnson as the orphaned deer, now on a path of revenge. Johnson looks so silly as Bambi, but the scene-stealer is Taran Killam doing a perfect impression of Vin Diesel. However, I wish we got to hear more of Cecily Strong’s impression of Michelle Rodriguez.

The Jungle – In what is clearly a knock-off of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, this doesn’t just spoof the adventure franchise. Instead, it brings physical comedy into the equation by having the scrawny Pete Davidson be happy to volunteer to suck poison from various penetrated points of Dwayne Johnson’s body while Kate McKinnon is desperate to get her hands on his ripped physique. We all knew where this was going from the beginning, but Johnson throws himself entirely into it that the predictable nature of the joke doesn’t matter.

WWE Promo Shoot – How has this never been done before? Wrestlers always give the most generic threats during these moments of hype for a forthcoming fight, but this fantastic personal war that Johnson’s character delivers against Bobby Moynihan is hilarious. How much more exciting would wrestling be if these guys were able to actually sling mud like this? Kudos to Moynihan for giving the best reactions to these embarrassing revelations.

Pep Boys – Following the failure that was the Starbucks #RaceTogether campaign in a good-nature attempt to get people to discuss race relations, we knew something had to be done to skewer this at “SNL.” But thankfully, the writers didn’t take the easy way out by having a sketch playing out a potential scenario that happened at Starbucks, but switched the issue to gender and sex politics at Pep Boys, and it couldn’t have been better.

The Average

Dinner Date – Dwayne Johnson is what made this sketch so great. His sleazeball character felt like something he’d been doing forever. This is probably the best evidence of Johnson’s pure charisma when he doesn’t really have much in the vein of make-up and physical comedy to rely on. Also, Cecily Strong’s trashy British girlfriend was a nice touch too. This probably would have been one of the best of the night if the ending was a little better.

The Rock Obama – This was a favorite sketch from when Johnson hosted “SNL” previously, and it was nice to see it make a comeback. The formula is the same, but it’s so funny to see Johnson in ripped up clothes throwing around politicians (I can’t wait for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign to start in earnest just so we can see Bobby Moynihan keep doing his impression). But this one had a great twist at the end that gave Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones something to do despite being mostly absent the rest of the night.

Improv Show – For anyone who has ever done improv or seen a bad improv show, this was funny. But this was even funnier for anyone who watched “The Jinx.” However, if you don’t fit into the latter qualification, this may not have been all that amusing to you. There were a lot of references to the HBO documentary series that made headlines for revealing crimes committed by Robert Durst, and while Kate McKinnon’s impression of him is perfect and amusing by itself, it’s a little more of an inside joke than it should have been. But it was still entertaining.

Circus with Kyle – This is a recurring sketch from Kyle Mooney that I love, but this one just didn’t pack the same punch as previous attempts. It almost seems too easy to do this in front of kids, so that’s a strike against it, but in this one, Mooney’s awkward version of himself seemed to be a little too self-aware and smart about what he was doing at times. Still, it was amusing enough.

The Worst

Brogaine – This seemed like a long way to go for a joke about Oklahoma University’s racist fraternity, but I do enjoy Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett when they do characters like this. However, Dwayne Johnson seemed shoehorned in for no good reason and wasted in this sketch.

Cooking with Paul – This feels like it’s something that may have killed at dress rehearsal, but then fell apart in the live broadcast. There were clearly some missed cues and issues with getting the right shot in the middle, but beyond that, this seems like a funny premise that didn’t translate to a good sketch. Kenan Thompson did his best, but it just didn’t work.

The Weird

Interrogation – I don’t know what the impetus for this sketch was, but it was a pure delight. I laughed really hard when Johnson said, “That’s a lie so big it would fit in a box that can hold a million hats.” I wish Johnson wouldn’t have rushed through the “Friends” theme song clap joke, because it kind of ruined the intended effect, but he also did a lot to make this work when it could have easily fallen flat.

Weekend Update


This was one of the better times behind the desk for Michael Che and Colin Jost. Che had some great delivery with his half of the headlines, while I thoroughly enjoyed Jost’s brief rant about “The Jinx” theme song. However, it seems like they maybe glossed over some of the more important headlines that could have been skewered. As an Indiana native, I would have liked more about the stupid religious freedom bill that was signed into action last week, but oh well.

Olya Povlatsky On the Russian Economy – I’ll never get tired of Kate McKinnon as this dark, sad Russian woman. Russia is an easy target, but the writing for this character is so good.

Willie is Excited About Spring – Kenan Thompson has plenty of recurring Weekend Update characters, but I’m not sure this is one to stick with. I love his energy and dedication to this character, but I just don’t think it can sustain itself for very long. But this one was still an enjoyable segment.

The Host

In Dwayne Johnson’s monologue (see above), he does a musical number about how some have called him “franchise viagra” in reference to how several film franchises have benefited from his presence. So it only makes sense that this is one of the best episodes of the season with Johnson proving that he really does raise the bar wherever he goes. Johnson is certainly one of the best hosts “SNL” has seen, and I hope that they bring him back more often. He deserves to be in the five-timers club and beyond if the episodes with him are always going to be this good.

The MVP

Saturday Night Live - Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson – It’s amazing to see a guy like Johnson, with roots in professional wrestling and a career in action adventure blockbusters, come to a place like “Saturday Night Live” and hold his own with some of the best comedic talent working today. If Johnson was a gifted comedy writer, he would fit in perfectly with the cast of “SNL,” not unlike Justin Timberlake or Tom Hanks. He elevated “SNL,” had immense amounts of fun, and was positively hilarious. More Dwayne Johnson, please!

The Final Word

This just might be the best episode of the season so far, thanks largely to Dwayne Johnson’s presence and more than satisfying comedy chips. Everyone brought their A-game, and pretty much every single member of the cast had at least one great moment throughout the night. We’re coming up on the final episodes of “Saturday Night Live,” and I hope the momentum from this episode lasts right through next weekend’s new episode.

We’ll be back next week after Michael Keaton hosts “Saturday Night Live” on April 4th.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.
  • Sean L

    this was one of my fav episodes of SNL ever. Johnson is hilarious!