SNL: Alicia Keys, Brie Larson, Taran Killam (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in May 2016.

“SNL” has a tendency to book recently anointed Oscar winners and nominees as hosts. Last year, it was J.K. Simmons a few weeks before the ceremony, and Michael Keaton a couple months after. This season, it is Brie Larson’s turn, with the holiday serving as a tie-in to her award-winning role. It is a sound strategy, as that Academy recognition generally guarantees that these people can act. They do not necessarily have to be funny, so long as they fulfill their roles just as the writing asks them to. Brie proves herself perfectly capable, and the writing lives up to her level.

Church Chat – As Trump Judgment Day has finally come to pass, the cold opening for this episode would of course be political. But it is not the normal cable news parody. In a fit of inspiration, and a wink to the past, Dana Carvey drops by to revive his most prolific and iconic (solo) character. Church Lady’s tsk-tsking of the Donald makes perfect sense (she’s done it before), but her hectoring of Ted Cruz feels a little like kicking an ally while he’s down. Not that Enid Strict wouldn’t do that – it is just a slightly different mode for her. Anyway, it is nice to see an old favorite, but it is tricky for her to find some really good putdowns, as Trump is too cartoonish and Cruz is too pathetic. Not all is lost, though, as Trump’s mangling of Bible facts is chuckle-worthy (though standard issue) and Cruz’s resurrection as a demon – though it may not hit as hard as it might like – is a worthwhile experiment. B-