Adam Driver was the host of Saturday Night Live. The ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ star made his hosting debut with the expected riffing of the iconic franchise in the opening monologue. And for the rest of the show? See a review roundup of what critics had to say and watch video highlights right here!
A full month after of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awake’ hit theaters, and shattering all kinds of box office records, finally, a cast member of revitalized franchise has a turn on the famed Studio 8H stage. The Christmas episode with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and then the holiday break had intervened, but now, belatedly, we get our Star Wars opening monologue and skit.
Before his turn as villain Kylo Ren — son of Hans Solo and Princess Leia in the new movie — Adam Driver was best known for his role on HBO’s ‘Girls’ portraying creator and star Lena Dunham’s reluctant boyfriend, Adam Sackler, and his appearance, of course, was also to promote the new season.
But first things first, and that being all things ‘Star Wars,’ and the opening monologue wasted no time. As he spoke about suddenly being plunged headlong into the franchise and its enormous fan base, along came SNL cast members dressed up as various characters in the movie to ask questions, much like they would at Comic-Con.
Later in the episode we had a mashup of ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Undercover Boss.’ Yes, even the thought of such a mashup sounds as unlikely as it does intriguing. This saw Adam Driver as Kylo Ren as “Matt,” much like the hit reality TV show, to see what was really happening at Killer Star Base.
But of course, this being the political season we didn’t spent the entire episode in the galaxy far away. We got the expected cold open mocking the recent GOP debate which saw frontrunner Donald Trump and nearest contender in the still-enormous field, Senator Ted Cruz infamously spar over “New York Values” and now it was left to Taran Killam’s “Cruz” and Darrell Hammond’s “Trump” to take it to the extreme. That’s quite a task in an election season that’s already playing out like SNL.
And along the way, the show hit the pause button on the comedy as former cast member Fred Armisen gave a moving tribute to the late great David Bowie whose sudden death just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his final album ‘Blackstar’ is still, days later, a shock to the world. A clip was played of his iconic 1979 SNLperformance of ‘The Man Who Sold the World.’
And what did critics think of this collision of ‘Star Wars’ and politics and the like? Here’s a roundup of what they’re saying.
“….Throughout the show he proved an affable host; he was game for whatever the writers threw at him and again, including the Liev Schreiber dong-wag thing. I would have liked to have seen a Lena Dunham cameo, so we could have seen Driver in Adam Sackler mode, but the Star Wars sendup definitely delivered. Plus, the fact that the other characters he played were so random speaks to what was fun about this episode. ….”– The Wrap
“….It wasn’t a perfect show, but Driver brought an unexpected brand of enthusiasm that was great to see and seemed to infect the rest of the cast. It wasn’t a goofy time like we saw with Ryan Gosling earlier this season — as the uncontrollable giggles were absent — but the comedy was about has high as you could have expected. ….”– Fan Sided
“….OK, money isn’t everything, but at least Driver could focus on those lofty sums during some of the episode’s less successful moments, including an opening monologue where the actor didn’t have much more to do than react to regular cast members’ Star Wars-fueled buffoonery. Still, I wish Driver (or somebody on the SNL staff) had nixed the icky punch line about his gay porn star character’s HIV-positive status in the night’s final sketch. (If you’re going to be offensive, at least be funny, yes?)…..”– TV Line
“….As it turns out, Driver, despite the show not starting until after 12:30 because of sportsball, was as game as SNL could have wished for, throwing himself into a handful of silly sketches where he donned every goofy wig and did every silly voice required. Unfortunately, the writing wasn’t there, leaving Driver’s commitment to play out to dead spaces and scattered chortles. (Maybe everyone was as annoyed and sleepy as those poor saps who can’t start writing their reviews until 2 a.m.) Still, Driver exhibited a winning ability to be a big, energetic goof, which was plenty endearing. ….” — The A.V. Club
“…Overall, a very fun show. We’re not sure it will go down as an instant classic, but we have to say that when it comes to the sketches themselves, there was no real miss beyond maybe “Weekend Update.” Grade: B+…… ” –Carter Matt
And with that, the first episode of Saturday Night Live in the new year had come and gone! Memorable? Viral? Time will tell, but meanwhile, check out host Adam Driver and the cast in the SNL video highlights below!
Pictures: PR Photos