Adam Sandler’s return to ‘Saturday Night Live’ was just all over the damn place

Saturday Night Live
Adam Sandler & Shawn Mendes
May 4, 2019

I’m going to be honest with you before we get into this: I am not a fan of Adam Sandler but for a few — no, make that one — exception, that exception being Happy Gilmore. I HATED Sandler when he was on SNL, and did not think it was a huge loss when he was fired 24 years ago. But Sandler has matured since his time on the show, as people are wont to do, and so while I came into this episode expecting to hate it and him, I was surprised to find I hated neither. Sandler, having become a huge movie star, seems more comfortable in his own skin, willing not to laugh more at himself than with himself, which is a huge relief.

All that said, it’s not a great episode, and in fact, one sketch — and an early one at that — received a dreaded F. You know what you did, Kyle Mooney.

The show began with the rarest of things: a non-political cold open. I guess they couldn’t get Patton Oswalt to New York in time to do Bill Barr?

Instead, we have another Celebrity Family Feud, this time with the Avengers pitted against the characters from Game of Thrones. See, because they’re both huge franchises that are coming to an end at the same time? Anyway, it’s fine. It’s fine! It feels easy? But it’s fine. One quibble: Brienne’s answer is pretty much the same as Arya’s? Isn’t “trying to creep with your freaky friend” the same as “getting booty?” I mean, come on.

Still, I wish we’d had Patton Oswalt as Bill Barr. MAKE IT HAPPEN, SNL.

Grade: B

Adam Sandler’s opening monologue tackles the 24-year-old elephant in the room: that the reason he left Saturday Night Live was because he was — somewhat inexplicably considering how popular he was with everyone but me — fired. Chris Rock pops in to sing about how he was fired, too, serving as a reminder that Lorne Michaels is an idiot. Listen, I am not a fan of Adam Sandler’s goofy songs, but this was self-deprecating enough that I couldn’t help but be charmed. Of course, it’s easy to be self-deprecating when you’ve become a huge box office draw.

Grade: A-

In this sketch, a CNN journalist reports from the front lines of a war on the only social media app that will connected: Snapchat. Inappropriate and distracting filter hijinks ensue.

Grade: B

H’oh boy. So, the premise of this early 90s video spoof is that Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney’s power ballad is about how “clothes are holes.”

Some questions I have:

1. Did Kyle Mooney only just now see Insane Clown Posse’s “Miracles” video? Because while their actual look is more Color Me Badd and less Juggalos, the song and its stoner-observation schtick is all “Miracles.” Except “Miracles” is actually funny.

2. What does Kyle Mooney have on Lorne Michaels that not only this is made it onto air, but that it is aired early in the episode instead of buried at the end in the shame spot?


I generally don’t give Fs unless a sketch is actually offensive, but exceptions make the rule.

Grade: F

And now to give you whiplash, my favorite sketch of the night is this Perillo Tours spoof, in which Adam Sandler plays a tour company owner who wants you to temper your expectations: to know that a vacation can’t change who you are as a person. “If you are sad at home and you get on a plane to Italy, you’ll still be the same sad you, just in a different place.” Not to overanalyze what makes something funny, but I appreciate that this sketch suggests a backstory without ever explicitly telling it. Sometimes restraint is the key! DO YOU HEAR THAT, KYLE MOONEY?

Grade: A-

As I said, I am not a huge Adam Sandler fan, and so this Sandler Family Reunion sketch, in which all of Sandler’s most irritating characters from SNL and beyond are impersonated by the cast, including guests Jimmy Fallon and Kristen Wiig, was like nails on a blackboard for me. That said, I appreciate getting it (almost) all over with in one fell swoop instead of spreading this out over the entire episode. Bonus points for Leslie Jones’ Carl Weather’s impersonation.

Grade: B-

The only commercial spoof of the night is for an erectile dysfunction pill which is actually a butt plug. That’s the entire joke: an elderly father thinks that a butt plug is a suppository. I don’t know, man, this is not my thing.

Grade: C

“Weekend Update” continues its solid B-performance. They go after Bill Barr for refusing to show up for his date with the House Judiciary Committee “because I guess our country has no rules anymore.” Indeed.

Grade: B+

Liz Warren is back to complain that she’s working hard to give you free college while “Beto O’Dork” is doing parkour in Starbucks and Budguguguguig is speaking fluent Klingon and getting all the attention.

SANSA 2020.

Grade: B

Of course Adam Sandler revives Opera Man, we all knew we were going to see Opera Man again. And I know this is going to shock you, but I’m not a huge Opera Man fan. But! Hey! James Harden gets a shout out, so that’s something!

Grade: B

It’s that sketch where Kate McKinnon is supposed to be a really gross bar patron who makes out with another really gross bar patron at last call. This time it’s Adam Sandler with a bonus Kristen Wiig, and I 100% wish it had just been Kristen Wiig. Sandler adds nothing here.

Grade: B

The final aired piece of the night was a sincere song Adam Sandler performs about his pal and fellow SNL star, the dearly departed Chris Farley. I had read about this bit before I actually watched it and I was all, “OH BROTHER, ADAM SANDLER IS GOING TO TRY TO MANIPULATE ME EMOTIONALLY AND I AM NOT HERE FOR IT.” But then he got to the part about Farley’s dad and Tim Meadow’s wedding and he clearly is trying to hold it together and LISTEN. I AM NOT MADE OUT OF STONE. And that’s my way of saying that Adam Goddamned Sandler made me tear up.

Guh. I hate myself.

Grade: A

Finally, we have a sketch cut for time in which Pete Davidson’s nonplussed idiot Chad dies and meets his father in the afterlife. Look, I’m not a huge huge fan of Chad, but this actually felt kinda layered (Adam Sandler is sorta a proto-Pete Davidson, for instance, and there is a maybe joke in there about BDE) and all I’m saying is that this sketch is almost to the second exactly as long as “Holes” and Lorne Michaels should be fired.



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

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