Timothée Chalamet Reminds Us What ‘SNL’ Is Really About: Shameless Project Promotion
When Fran Drescher triumphed over the evil AMPTP this week and at long last delivered labor peace to Hollywood, one thing was clear: The Saturday Night Live monologue would once again become a tool to promote the host’s latest project, no matter how ridiculous or inappropriate. To prove the point, returning guest Timothée Chalamet took the opportunity to ring the cash register multiple times. Ka-ching!
Chalamet lets us know right away that he’s happy the SAG-AFTRA strike is over — otherwise, all he could have talked about was his new Chanel commercial directed by Martin Scorsese (Plug #1!). Cue the Wonka music for a shakily sung “Pure Imagination” parody that invites us into a world of shameless self-promotion. “It’s okay,” he croons. “I can say that my new film Wonka is out in theaters December 15th, Fandango keyword: Hugh Grant! Damn, Hugh Grant got that oompa-loompa dump truck.” (Plug #2!)
But he’s not done yet. Chalamet’s song extols the virtues of three-and-a-half hour movies like Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. (Plug #3! Guess Timothée and Martin really hit it off filming that perfume commercial.) “Or just wait for part two of Dune,” he sings. (Plug #4!)
Chalamet takes more shots at AMPTP, cheering that it can no longer fill crowd shots with fake CGI drones applauding (you can guess what SNL cuts to here) before bringing out Marcello Hernández, Punkie Johnson and Kenan Thompson to rap about having baby faces. Not sure what that was all about, other than to prove Chalamet is a marginally better rapper than he is a singer.
As expected, Chalamet is charming and the opening movie plugs are as awkward as ever. I’m not sure when in the show’s tenure it became mandatory to only host the show when you had a project to promote. But Lorne Michaels or NBC or some marketing wonk saw the light decades ago. Now when you hear that Jason Momoa is coming in a few weeks, you know, “Huh, guess it must be time for Aquaman 2.”
We don’t think Lorne Michaels is complaining. Ever since someone decided SNL is slam-dunk movie promotion, the show has landed some of the biggest stars in the world to host. I'm sure Dwayne Johnson loves sketch comedy, but he’s a five-timer because the Rock knows how to hustle up movie ticket sales.
As for the rest of the show? The night’s best sketch featured Chalamet as the Man in the Moon, comforting an orphan (newcomer Chloe Troast) who no one wants to adopt. Troast has some serious, Cecily-Strong-caliber singing chops, yearning for new parents despite being a 27-year-old, flat-earther sociopath. It’s a rare spotlight sketch for a new performer — good on Troast for proving she deserved one.
The evening’s lowlight was another SNL tradition — the terrible political cold open. Was America really waiting to see how the show would skewer this week’s little-discussed Republican debates? It’s an excuse to trot out wigs and prosthetics that barely resemble Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. It’s almost as if politicians have a project to promote and the show feels an obligation to provide a platform. But these are plugs that the show — and viewers — can do without.