John Early Is Figuring Out How to Be Sincere

As the star of the sharp new indie ‘Stress Positions,’ the irreverent comic works in a more serious vein. He tells Cracked why he’s getting comfortable with being earnest — even if he’s scared everyone will think he’s pretentious

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Every ‘SNL’ Movie Ranked By How Tired the Main Character Was When They Finally Made It to the Big Screen

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Every ‘SNL’ Movie Ranked By How Tired the Main Character Was When They Finally Made It to the Big Screen

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I’m grateful to live in a world in which we never saw an SNL movie featuring Debbie Downer, the Church Lady or Mango. Then again, we’ve had more than our share of Saturday Night Live characters shoved down our throats at movie theaters, many of whom had long since worn out their welcome on the show itself. Here is a complete list of movies based on SNL characters, ranked by how sick of them we were by the time the movies limped to the multiplex…

The Blues Brothers

 

While Jake and Elwood Blues had performed their R&B songs on Saturday Night Live, the characters had barely spoken. With no Blues Brothers comedy sketches to their name but a #1 record album, Aykroyd and Belushi had a blank slate upon which to create the movie’s comic mythology. Not only was America not sick of the Blues Brothers, the band’s blues-ish music tour whetted fans’ appetite for more. 

Wayne’s World

 

Wayne and Garth had only been broadcasting from Aurora, Illinois for a couple of seasons before they got the big-screen treatment. It was an odd choice for a feature film, but apparently an inspired one — it remains the most successful SNL movie of all time, raking in more than $120 million. The movie shocked Roger Ebert, who went in expecting something stupid but instead discovered “a genuinely amusing, sometimes even intelligent, undercurrent.” Gene Siskel liked it even better, ranking it #8 on his 10 best films of the year.

MacGruber

 

The amount of time MacGruber appeared in a given SNL episode was always mercifully short since the character usually blew up after about a minute onscreen. So even 10 appearances hadn’t exhausted us on the character when MacGruber was turned into a feature film. The movie bombed, appropriately, but has since taken on cult-classic status for its aggressive weirdness, a Will Forte specialty.

Wayne’s World 2

The main reason Wayne’s World 2 felt droopy was that it spent so much time recycling the jokes and plot points of Wayne’s World. (Even the trailer above has Garth observing, “That was just like the first movie.”) In between the two films, Saturday Night Live milked its popular characters for all they were worth, making the sequel an even more wearied imitation of the original. There are only so many laughs you can wring out of schwing!

Stuart Saves His Family

I’d argue that Stuart Smalley still isn’t all that tired, mainly because the self-help guru often wasn’t the main character in his own sketches. Smalley was a funny foil to friends like Michael Jordan, Martin Lawrence and Macauley Culkin, offering affirming advice before his crippling lack of self-esteem let him down. “I not only enjoyed Stuart Smalley,” wrote Ebert of the movie, but “doggone it, I liked him.”

Superstar

Mary Katherine Gallagher became a superstar in the years in which Saturday Night Live rode its strongest horses directly into the ground. Nineteen sketches are too many for any character, but Molly Shannon’s alter-ego held up better than most thanks to the heartbreaking poignancy lurking beneath the Catholic schoolgirl uniform. Teaming with Will Ferrell for the feature film seemed like a good idea — until it didn’t. 

The Ladies Man

Tim Meadows seems like a nice guy, but nice enough to earn fifteen Ladies’ Man sketches on Saturday Night Live? The character seemed “popular” because SNL kept bringing him back rather than the other way around. Like Wayne’s World, the Ladies’ Man sketches were built around a talk-show format — not exactly a promising setting for a feature film. But while Mike Myers figured out a way to expand the World of Wayne, The Ladies Man movie seemed to run out of gas before it left the driveway. 

Night at the Roxbury

The definition of a one-joke sketch — meatballs bobbing their heads in a nightclub to a Eurosynth beat — had no chance of succeeding as a feature, especially after endless SNL repetition drained the flimsy concept of any comedy juice. Ferrell and Chris Kattan didn’t even know what the characters’ voices sounded like when they were contracted to write it. This movie and Superstar should have killed Will Ferrell’s movie career before it could get started. Instead, we barely remember he was in either one. 

Coneheads

No one was clamoring for a Coneheads feature in 1993, a good 14 years after the characters last appeared on Saturday Night Live. When Dan Aykroyd first appeared as Beldar in 1977, the audience gasped and applauded at the unexpected sight of his domed skull. Ten sketches later, he and Prymaat had wrung all of the comedy out of pretending to be from France and pleasuring each others’ cones. You could hear America’s collective groan when they returned for a series of State Farm commercials in 2015. 

It’s Pat: The Movie

If there’s one SNL movie that Lorne Michaels seems to be embarrassed about, Pat is it, grousing that he had the right to stop Julia Sweeney from making it but allowed the ill-advised comedy to go ahead. “Ever since, it’s been on my record,” he complains in oral history Live From New York. Michaels hated when people talked about “Saturday Night Live movies like It’s Pat’” since it tainted the whole idea of an SNL Cinematic Universe. These days, Sweeney understands why the androgynous character is problematic and got that Pat was on slippery ground even back in the 1990s. “If I did it again,” she has said, “I would make Pat more enigmatic and make it clear that (the joke) was about the other people.” 

Blues Brothers 2000

How tired were the Blues Brothers by the time we got to the Blues Brothers 2000 sequel? When one of the two main actors has been dead for 18 years, it’s probably a sign that the concept’s time has come and gone. Especially when the replacement is Jim Belushi. 

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