Robert De Niro ‘s hosting stint on “Saturday Night Live” on Dec. 4 is an inconsistent blend of meta humor and just plain odd moments, but with a little help from his “Little Fockers” co-star Ben Stiller, pulls together some funny, but not really hilarious moments.
A WikiLeaks meets TMZ opening sketch is actually more clever than the opening monologue, which basically pretends that De Niro knows nothing about New York, but gets really angry in a mob-style way when he’s corrected. It’s kind of a weak premise, but like everything else in this episode, the more the bit wears on the sillier it becomes.
“The Abacus Conundrum”
In this commercial spoof, De Niro plays Harlan Kane, a Robert Ludlum-esque author whose book jackets take up most of the screentime. The ridiculous titles such as “The Godiva Gyroscope” and others following the Ludlum style — including one with Pokemon — must have been fun to throw together in the writers’ room. As for the quality of the books, Kane says, “I don’t know. People keep reading them.”
“What Up With That?”
Probably not the strongest installment, but there’s the tried and true musical interludes all the same, and we want to give Jason Sudeikis an Emmy just for his Running Man and NKOTB moves in the background. Ignoring the monologue, this is the first of three sketches in which De Niro plays a version of himself. Robin Williams sits in the second chair and has a few good lines as well.
De Niro tries to speak, but whenever the band starts to keep time, gearing up for another song, he shuts down and calls them rude. Deandre Cole (Kenan Thompson) won’t be silenced though, so the expected interruptions occur. Highlights: Dancing with Boba Fett and an Oompa Loompa; Mothra arrives and is told to “Stay away from the porch light”; Lindsey Buckingham (Bill Hader) gets a gift; Williams: “I’m just tweeting what a great time I didn’t have.”
“From the Garden With Mr. Produce”
Painful skit. De Niro’s produce TV chef personality keeps getting undermined by his petulant college-aged son Anthony (Andy Samberg) and there’s rather tepid squabbling going on.
Digital short – “Party at Mr. Bernard’s”
De Niro literally has nothing to do but lie there in this spoof of (as if it needed one) “Weekend at Bernie’s.” Two loser party guys find that Mr. Bernard has died, but since the guests are arriving any minute for their beach house party, they dress him up to pretend he’s alive. All goes horribly awry though when the guests see through the ruse like any normal people would.
Seth Meyers does his thing well, especially when he tries out three different scripts for a news story about a man marrying his five-year-old dog: “Now that he’s married to her, good luck getting her to roll over.” Of the guest stars, the Broadway musical “Spider-Man” understudy (Paul Brittain or Taran Killam?) is the best, even better than the fake Kardashians. Suspended upside down from the ceiling, the physical aspect actually helps. Best part is when he asks Seth for an upside-down Spider-Man kiss. “You be Mary Jane. Hook up the smooch,” he ask as his swings, pendulum-like and puckers up every time he nears. The reaction is priceless.
“Little Fockers Set Visit”
Little Keith (Bobby Moynihan) can’t believe he’s on the “Little Fockers” set (wow!) and ate from craft services (wow!) and looked through the camera viewfinder (wow!). But when De Niro (playing himself yet again) arrives, Keith could care less. In fact, he’s kind of antagonistic. When De Niro tells him that the makeup guy’s job is to make him look good, Keith’s response is “Where was he when you made ‘Analyze That’?” Ouch. A surprise guest appearance by Ben Stiller brings the skit home.
Diddy is oddly enough, one of the funnier elements in the bizarre skit. Samberg comes in as a hook specialist to doctor up Diddy’s latest album, but the Blizzard Man kind of blows (get it?). It’s De Niro in drag as Bizzard Man’s busty mom that adds that extra element to send the whole thing off the deep end. Have we been eating ‘shrooms? His delivery of lines like “Bitch gotta stay dipped” is kind of hilarious, and we gotta give props to Diddy hitting on him (her) and declaring, “If you weren’t my man’s mom, I’d tear that ass up.”
“La Rivista Della Televisione”
We love Bill Hader as this Italian host Vinny, mainly because of his smarmy expressions and endless spouting of Italian-sounding nonsense. De Niro plays himself getting interviewed, and the jokes are pretty standard at first. A trick to make him utter the famous “Taxi Driver” line is kind of hilarious. We want to shake the person’s hand who decided to bring on the deer from “The Deer Hunter,” only to have him killed. There’s just so much gold in that whole deer bit.
“Bosley Hair Restoration”
Baldness has a new source of replacement hair follicles, the “mezzanine.” If you can’t figure out what that is, well, let’s just say it’s a coarser, frizzier hair from another part of your body. It’s all in the visual humor and ick factor for this one. Well done.
Sudeikis and Samberg are desperate for a drink, but the bartender ignores them. “Who do I have to screw to get a drink around here?” Turns out it’s a grey-haired De Niro who “kind of looks like Gandalf” in a bathrobe. Oddly enough, both men subject themselves to the task instead of just moving on to another bar. Once again, Stiller makes a cameo at the end. A comment about his “gorgeous eyes” and the descent into silliness and giggling redeems this skit.
One more bonus: “I, Hippie.” Just watch:
Did you enjoy De Niro on “SNL”?