The Weekend Rent: Saturday Night Live Movies

The Weekend Rent: Saturday Night Live Movies

May 22, 2010

MacGruber, which opens in theaters this weekend and has some positive buzz, is the latest in a long history of movies inspired by Saturday Night Live sketches. The problem with SNL-based flicks is how do you expand a funny short segment on the show into a feature-length film? As you can see from the following list of SNL films, some soar at the box office but most are one-trick ponies.

Wayne’s World: Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) host a cable access show in Illinois and drool over pictures of celebrity babes, play air guitar and drums, and interview locals. “Schwing!” It remains the highest grossing and best received SNL film and spawned a sequel, Wayne’s World 2, which wasn’t as successful.

The Blues Brothers: John Landis directed Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi in this fan-favorite homage to classic blues and R&B. Landis also directed Blue Brothers 2000 long after Belushi had died, but it didn’t recapture the weird and wonderful vibe of the 1980 original.

Coneheads: Whose idea was it to have Dan Akyroyd, Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman play the Coneheads on the big screen in 1993 an eternity after the characters last appeared on SNL? Coneheads isn’t the worst SNL adaptation, but a whole generation grew up and didn’t know who the Coneheads were by the time the movie hit theaters.

Stuart Saves His Family: Al Franken’s self-help skits on SNL were consistently funny, but few were laughing when he took it to the big screen in 1995. The film earned less than $1 million at the box office.

A Night at the Roxbury: If you don’t like Haddaway’s irritatingly catchy ‘90s high-energy ditty “What is Love?” then stay far away from this flick in which it is played multiple times. Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan play the Wutabi brothers, who like to bob their heads a lot to the aforementioned club classic. Sometimes 83 minutes feels like an eternity.

Superstar: Molly Shannon is a hoot, but stretching her skit of Mary Katharine Gallagher—an awkward, fame-craving Catholic school girl—to 81 minutes is like spreading a dab of cold butter over a piece of bread.

The Ladies Man: Tim Meadows is amusing as the lascivious radio talk-show host with a thing for the ladies—especially the married ones. The film grossed under $14 million at the box office, but at least Meadows had an R rating to play with, unlike most of his SNL cast mates.

Office Space: Mike Judge’s hilarious satire of life in office cubicles began on SNL as a series of animated shorts. The live-action movie version starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston didn’t register at the box office but had legs on DVD and, more recently, Blu-ray.

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