“Saturday Night Live flatters Jennifer Lopez, who sort of deserves it”

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Dennis Perkins (A.V. Club) reviews Jennifer López’s guest appearance on Saturday Night Live (SNL) emphasizing her talents and beauty. Comparing J Lo to Raquel Welsh, Perkins explains that “her diva star power comes yoked to actual talents.” I agree with his reference to her Oscar-worthiness, “Her performance in Hustlers might not eclipse her still-stellar turn in 1998’s Out Of Sight, but she’s getting the Oscar buzz.” However, I would add to this her outstanding performance in the much-maligned 2003 film Gigli (which received a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes and was called “Abominable” by many—but check her amazing monologue). Perkins provides a very entertaining read that includes clips of several SNL skits—the best and the worst. I needed a good laugh today, and this certainly helped!

Jennifer Lopez is 50. That’d be a rude thing to start of a review with, if Jennifer Lopez hadn’t come out for her monologue resplendent in a form-fitting tux (later quick-changed into that dress), told everyone she’s 50, and then run down exactly how successful and busy she’s been in this, her 50th year on this earth. (New upcoming album, new movie, Super Bowl halftime gig, fulfilling every Bronx girl’s dream of getting engaged to a Yankee, and so on.) Indeed, the whole episode followed up on the giant humblebrag that was the monologue (including Beck Bennett’s audience member literally losing his head over the whole “She’s 50?!” thing), piling on sketch after sketch predicated on the idea that Jennifer Lopez is a very, very attractive and accomplished woman. Not bragging if it’s true.

Lopez has hosted SNL before (although not since 2010), and she’s certainly a capable actress. (Her performance in Hustlers might not eclipse her still-stellar turn in 1998’s Out Of Sight, but she’s getting the Oscar buzz.) And if there’s a knock on her here it’s that she’s game, but not entirely comfortable onstage. The monologue was on rails right from the start, which kept the host at a certain remove, and the abrupt segue to the Rockettes Christmas musical number has a certain 1970s movie guest star sheen to it.

[. . .] Luckily for everyone, Lopez is not Raquel, in the sense that her diva star power comes yoked to actual talents, even if, again, live TV doesn’t really seem to be her thing. The succession of sketches whose joke was all about how freaking gorgeous and, yes, fabulous Lopez is could have been off-putting, if she weren’t so in on the joke. (Look for the “J Lo. is fabulous” counter in the review to come.)

Another way Lopez defused some of the potential eye-rolling tonight was allowing herself to be upstaged by other performers. Sure, that repeatedly happened in sketches where the joke was “Jennifer Lopez is far too pretty for [premise],” but it kept working just fine. (JLo. is fabulous #2.) The surprise home makeover bit pivoted around Kenan Thompson’s host Becker Cheeks, as he was consistently unable to process the seemingly inexplicable marriage match of Lopez and Mikey Day’s Smurf-loving dweeb. The SNL template of goggling and pointing at how weird [sketch premise] is has no better salesman than Kenan, whose underplayed bafflement emerges in increasingly bemused asides. (“He’s into Smurfs?!,” he blurts upon seeing Day’s Brainy Smurf tramp stamp.) Still, the gag was built on pandering to just how amazing Jennifer Lopez is (she’s a human rights lawyer, had to ask Day three times to marry her, is willing to accept an open marriage, but just for him), while pounding away on Day’s incomprehensibly cocky mediocrity (Bennett’s carpenter plans for accessibility, assuming Lopez must be blind, while Bowen Yang’s equally baffled interior designer has to do a quick size check on Day’s penis, finding no answers there, either). Not a killer, by any means, but Kenan made it work, finally working himself into a confusion-stroke.

Along the same lines was the 1950s movie parody What Do You Figure Is Goin’ On In That House? Helped out with a lot more weirdness, the bit saw Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant chomping into some Joan Crawford-esque scheming as a pair of evil stepsisters, and Lopez getting to goof around a little more as the stunningly gorgeous sister who they’ve convinced is a grotesque attic-dweller. (JLo. is fabulous #3.) With a soldier-suitor on the way to call, the two mean sisters take turns either attempting to kill the other or convincing Lopez’s breathy bombshell that she’s a horrible goblin (which is why they’ve covered all the mirrors). It’s really Aidy and Kate’s sketch, as they ham it up in arch melodramatic style, all the while unspooling increasingly absurd machinations designed to keep Lopez under wraps when “the corporal” gets there, only to realize they’re just making her more ludicrously sexy. Trying to trigger her shellfish allergy only nets Lopez fuller lips, but the joke that they try to convince her the lobster she smooches is actually what a man really looks like is the funny part. And if there’s no turn to the joke (Lopez is still hot), the abrupt “Her!” from Bennett’s suitor immediately upon entering and seeing Lopez is a solid laugh to end on. [. . .]

For full article and video clips, see https://tv.avclub.com/saturday-night-live-flatters-jennifer-lopez-who-sort-o-1840293088

Also see https://thatgrapejuice.net/2019/12/jennifer-lopez-rocks-saturday-night-live-videos/ and https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/jennifer-lopez-sings-iconic-green-dress-as-snl-host-1260576

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