James McAvoy and his many accents are welcome back to ‘Saturday Night Live’ anytime

Saturday Night Live
James McAvoy & Meek Mill
January 26, 2019

James McAvoy is one of those actors who so seamlessly disappears into his roles that it can sometimes be hard to remember what, exactly, he has actually been in. And in fact, I had to go over to IMDB to look up his credits and confirm that he had been in The Chronicles of Narnia and wasn’t just doing an impersonation of someone else doing Mr. Tumnus in one of last night’s sketches. And though he’s best known for serious roles like Atonement, Split and the young Dr. Xavier in the X-Men movies, it turns out McAvoy has quite the comic timing and presence and was a complete natural as host of Saturday Night Live. I expect he will be back.

But here’s a question I have after last night’s episode: did the writers have some sort of challenge amongst themselves to see how many different accents they could make McAvoy do? By my count there were roughly 8 different accents McAvoy was asked to pull off: generic American, over-the-top Scottish, German, Philadelphian, British, Southern, urban/rap, and bad fake Southern. That’s a lot! That’s more than they ask other hosts to do! Was it some sort of game to see how many different accents they could come up with and that he could pull off? Or did he just decide to add accents to certain characters for flair? These are the sorts of things that wake me up at 4:17 in the morning, I’m not even kidding.

We begin the episode, refreshingly enough, with a fairly strong cold open, in which Tucker Carlson and Judge Jeanine discuss the shutdown, the wall and how Trump did not lose to Nancy Pelosi when he very clearly lost to Nancy Pelosi. Carlson also welcomes Wilbur Ross, Kate McKinnon’s newest target, and Roger Stone as portrayed by Steve Martin who is a “just a normal and straight-forward guy.”

By the way, I finally got around to watching Get Me Roger Stone on Netflix this weekend, and while I don’t want to give Roger Stone the validation and attention that sustains him, I have to say, if you want to understand how we got to the place where we are currently at with Trump, with the GOP as a whole, with this whole damn country, this is the documentary to watch. It really explains so much and is a delicious treat in the glow of Stone’s arrest.

Grade: A-

James McAvoy in a kilt, not singing. That’s all you need to know.

Grade: B+

Hey! It’s that recurring Bachelor spoof where the women keep interrupting each other to spend time with the Bachelor to say things like “I’m 31, so I’m almost dead,” and “I don’t know what to say because I’ve never been myself even once,” and “I’m black and have short hair, so I’m just going to say goodbye.” As a professional Bachelor viewer, I am here to say that this is the most accurate thing ever.

Also, and this is a true fact, during the end credits on last week’s episode of The Bachelor, Virgin Bachelor reenacted this sketch with children. I could not have made this up if I tried.

Grade: A

In the first digital bit of the night, McAvoy plays a teacher who reaches out to one of his troubled students. The result is a sharp twist on the Dangerous Minds/White Savior trope:

Grade: B+

While flying through Scottish airspace, Kylie Jenner’s airplane has an emergency and is helped by an air traffic controller. But! He has a Scottish accent. And Scottish accents are hard to understand. It’s a thin premise for a sketch, but goddamn if McAvoy doesn’t make it work. Also, I love a Scottish accent.

Grade: A

Leslie Jones raps a tribute to her new neighborhood, the Upper East Side and McAvoy does his next accent: German. I don’t know how funny people unfamiliar with New York neighborhoods might find this bit, but for those of us who have lived there: THIS IS IT.

Grade: A-

As a member of a focus group for Charmin toilet paper, James McAvoy’s character offers alternative ideas for a commercial while working an admirable Philly accent. Personally, I found the accent funnier than the sketch, but then a good Philly accent is just really funny.

Grade: B

Here is your “Weekend Update.” They call Roger Stone a “business Babadook.”

Grade: A-

Soulja Boy visits the “Weekend Update” desk to give his perspective on the government shutdown, hawk his ripped-off video game console, and announce his candidacy as the first black President. It might be funnier if I had any idea what Soulja Boy was like in real life, but as a white 45-year-old lady, that is not in my particular set of references.

Grade: C+

Cathy Anne is back at the “Weekend Update” desk to compare Trump’s urge for a wall to her own drug addiction. She is not wrong. “He’s gonna lie to you, steal from your purse, and he’s going to end up on the wrong side of a lot of glory holes until he gets his wall.” One can hope.

Grade: B

In this “Return to Narnia” bit, a trio of twenty-something women go to Narnia to find their 7th grade crush, Mr. Tumnus. Is this a thing? I mean, James McAvoy has a certain charm but are there really middle school girls with things for satyrs?

Grade: B

I guess they are making the sketch where Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney are brothers who wrestle in their underpants while their father/step-father turns a hose on them a recurring bit now. Mileage for this will vary. Personally, I thought it was kinda funny the first go-round; now I’m just irritated. Also, McAvoy’s southern accent is not particularly convincing.

Grade: C-

See, at first you think these guys are rapping about their girlfriends, but really they are rapping about their dogs. Bitch is a funny word because it means so many things!

Grade: B-

After admirably holding it together all night, McAvoy finally breaks in the final sketch of the night as part of an insufferable couple who have just returned from a vacation in New Orleans — or “N’awlins” as they insist on calling it — where they had a memorable authentic experience. As someone who loves New Orleans, I’m here to tell you that getting mugged in the French Quarter is actually a pretty authentic New Orleans experience.

Side note: apparently this is also becoming a recurring bit. Heidi Gardner first did it with Seth Meyers just a couple of months ago, except instead of New Orleans they had gone to Cuba. Or Koo-ba, as they repeatedly called it.

Grade: A

Final Grade: B+ Honestly, if they hadn’t included the Brothers sketch, this would have been an A- or episode.

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

Leave a Reply