Kevin Hart, SNL Host: Review Roundup, Video Highlights

January 18, 2015

Kevin Hart was the host of the Saturday Night Live returning for the first time in two years. Did fanfare and excitement await him this time around? Find out what the critics have to say; check out video highlights and a review roundup below.

Kevin Hart, currently starring in “The Wedding Ringer,” was back in full force on the famed Studio 8H state in 30 Rockefeller Center where Saturday Night Live has ruled the airwaves now for 40 years, amazingly.

And yes, the passage of time was a jump-off point for the cold open which saw portraying the ghost of Martin Luther King Jr. (Kenan Thompson) showing up in present day era on his holiday weekend to help a student (Peter Davidson) write about him. A lot has changed since the Civil Rights icon walked the earth, or not? Either way, what stands out — and sadly is true — the student knows virtually nothing of King except that he “owns a bunch of boulevards.”

Quickly on the heels of that was Kevin Hart’s monologue which essentially was a standup comedy routine delivered at his typical breakneck pace (surely a challenge to take in for non-native speakers of English) and he covered a miasma of topics including the wildlife prowling around his new home in Hollywood — notably a menacing raccoon and his concern over a hypothetical mountain lion attack — and more.

Along the way the episode covered a wide range of pop culture highlights and lowlights from the much-expected spook of the “Justin Bieber For Calvin Klein” ads, with Kate McKinnon being more Bieber than the Biebs himself, and a trip back in time to ‘James Brown, 1971,’ that was a particular standout with Kevin Hart himself portraying the Godfather of Soul.

Musical guest this time around was Sia, making her debut as such, and the famously shy Australian hitmaker songwriter and singer brought along her dancer, the 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler to dominate the famed stage as she sang.

So what did the critics have to say of Kevin Hart’s return and whole 90-minute ride that is SNL in this particular year 40 episode? Here’s a roundup.

“… The one-two punch of “Bushwick” and “James Brown, 1971″ was the show at its best, and “Update” was solid if short. The rest felt semi-unformed, with Hart’s energy making a lot work in practice that probably didn’t work on paper. But only two sketches were true clunkers, so that means this was just an average episode in an above-average season…..” — Hitfix

“….Always a treat when it’s too tough to call on the best sketch, so let’s call it a tie between the James Brown and the Bushwick sketches. Perhaps buoyed by thoughts of Eddie Murphy from the ”SNL Vintage” 10 p.m. episode tonight (from the Ebersol years—Lorne must be mellowing), the sight of Hart doing a good but not great James Brown impression was initially a letdown, until the sketch veered onto a giddily silly track, with Brown’s famous rhetorical mid-song questions turning into strange, awkward mid-song conversations with his huge band. Hart’s great, keeping the energy and the impression intact while coping with band members who aren’t unanimously sure whether they should, indeed, get more funky, or who question why he’s the only one who gets a cape, or, why one of his backup singers changed her first name when she got married. It’s a sketch all about performance, timing, and odd little logical swerves, and I laughed all though it. (“Should we take it to the bridge?” “No.” “Just a flat ‘no’?”)…” — AV Club

“….Hart next played James Brown in a sketch in which Brown demands that each of his band members tell him whether or not they want to get funkier. Most are happy to do so, but Brown meets with unexpected resistance when some are satisfied with the current funk level. The sketch started off strong, but was dragging by the end.

Most other sketches of the night did not even do that well. One that seemed to spoof ABC’s new musical series “Galavant” featured plenty of singing but very little in the way of jokes. Similarly, a sketch in which a soap opera cast is reunited on a talk show relied almost completely on fart jokes, which tells you everything you need to know about that one. Fart jokes, like real farts, are best when used sparingly. They become more special that way……” — The Wrap

“…Yes, Hart did occasionally stumble over lines and plow through most sketches with a high-octane, mile-a-minute delivery. But considering he never lost his cool (even during some flatlining bits) and gave every sketch his all, he still came across as a likable, gracious, and often funny host. Hart gave the performance of a comedian who knew he had a lot to prove, and, for better or worse, he left it all out on stage. Of course, he couldn’t save a hit-or-miss lineup of promising yet unsatisfying sketches, and the obligatory-black-host racial humor bugged me a little, but there was enough to like in this episode to give Kevin Hart the credit he deserves. …..” — Split Sider

“… The first half of this show is awful (save for Bieber), but the final three sketches were all right. Consider this as the way that this shot got an above-passing grade, since we have no clue what was going on most of the night. Grade: C……” — Carter Matt

See the video highlights from last night’s SNL with Kevin Hart below!

Pictures: PR Photos

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