Review: Saturday Night Live Season Finale with Dwayne Johnson and Katy Perry

Written by Mark Henely and Melissa Jouben

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Saturday Night Live Season Finale: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (host), Katy Perry (musical guest). Cameos: Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, and Alec Baldwin.

The Host: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Melissa: Did Dwayne Johnson say that he first hosted the show 17 years ago? Has it really been that long? I vividly remember staying up to watch him host SNL for the first time, ridiculously excited to see someone I knew so well from one of my favorite shows host one of my other favorite shows. It felt kind of like when one of your favorite indie bands strikes it big and you get to watch them become a household name. I also remember going to the movie theater the night The Mummy Returns opened and seeing that the crowd of people excited to watch The Rock in his seconds long cameo was so out of control, the theater needed to call in extra security. To say that the public’s reaction to The Rock has always been this extreme almost seems like an understatement. His star has literally never stopped rising.

In this episode he was welcomed in as the latest member of the Five Timers Club, which is actually pretty wild when you consider he only JUST got inducted. It feels like he’s hosting way more times than that, but I’m also pretty sure that at least one of his turns in the old “The Rock Obama” sketches was just a cameo. This episode is the kind of thing worthy of a Five Timers Club induction, as was as good as I wish Melissa McCarthy’s episode could have been. There’s a reason people are so down with the idea of electing him President of the United States, and it’s because he’s actually just that dynamic and personable. He is simply a joy to watch.

Mark: As a longtime wrestling fan, I am irrationally bothered by the fact that The Rock is introduced as “Dwayne Johnson.” Sure, I know it is his real name, but it just feels silly to call him that at this point. So, for the rest of this interview, I will only refer to him as the Rock.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Melissa’s Favorite Sketch of the Night – WWE Promo Shoot 2

Melissa: I actually loved most of these sketches and don’t think that endorsing one over another should mean that it’s better, or that it stands out as one of the episode’s “must-watch” sketches whereas the others don’t. I really think this entire episode is worth an hour and a half of your time. But, I need to pick something to write about, and I picked this.

The reason why is because you can’t go wrong with a wrestling-themed sketch. I love love LOVE the fact that Johnson’s character was named Koko Watch Out, a very fun play on the classic wrestler Koko B. Ware. I loved the gimmick they gave Bobby Moynihan’s character, and the fun that it seems like he had in spouting all those vaguely threatening lines, and coming up with catchphrases. And of course, hearing The Rock say any variation of “if you smell what The Rock is cooking” is way more exciting than it should be for a 25-year-old woman to hear.

The premise of the sketch is that two wrestlers – Koko Watch Out and Trashyard Mutt, are cutting a promo video for their match at Wrestlemania. While Bobby Moynihan’s Mutt is keeping very much in the spirit of the promo, Koko’s idea of cutting him down is to spill all his secrets – from the fact that Trashyard Mutt is infertile to the revelation that his wife is actually pregnant with Koko’s child, and also, they’re long lost twin brothers. Both performers look like they’re having fun with the premise and as long as you’re as into the novelty of the idea as I am, I have a feeling you’re going to have a pretty good time.

Photo Credit: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

Mark’s Favorite Sketch of the Night – Enhancement Drug

Mark: My favorite sketch of the night is a parody of your standard Viagara commercial, except the drug isn’t legal and is a lot more like crystal meth than like Viagara. The commercial is delightfully sinister and really dives into the darker sides of The Rock’s personality. It’s a really interesting window into power dynamics and unchecked desire.

It’s incredibly funny and a real showcase of what the Rock can do. It is the kind of sketch that only the Rock could execute. For instance, John Cena might be just as big as the Rock, but he doesn’t have the mean streak that the Rock is able to tap into at a moment’s notice.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Least Favorite Sketch of the Night – Wingman

Melissa: I was actually very relieved when this sketch happened late into the episode, because it meant I’d finally found a sketch I was comfortable saying was not very good. To be fair, I lost interest enough to stop paying full attention during this sketch so maybe it’s better than I’m giving it credit for, but considering I lost interest, maybe not.

The premise is that the bartender (Beck Bennett) steps in as a wingman for Dwayne Johnson’s character, and approaches women in the bar on his behalf, since he is apparently too shy or too uncomfortable to do it himself. The bartender continually inserts himself into the scenario, always reporting back that the woman is interested in a threesome or in some type of scenario where he gets to also have sex with the woman. That’s pretty much it. It’s a short sketch with a simple premise that repeats once or twice, has a slight misunderstanding, and then ends with a weird Bobby Moynihan character joining in on the newly proposed fivesome. It’s just fine, but definitely a lowlight in the episode overall.

Mark: I actually thought this was a pretty decently well written sketch, but the problem that I have is that the sketch hinges on implicit homophobia. The Rock’s character’s big problem with the proposed threesome is that he doesn’t want to be in an intimate situation that also includes another man. While sex is a very personal thing and no one has to do something they are uncomfortable with, it is kind of a buzzkill when someone puts on a sketch that really only re-enforces negative images of men with men intimacy.

Musical Guest – Katy Perry

Melissa: Do I like Katy Perry? No, I don’t. Did I like her here, on SNL? No, I didn’t. I think when someone as high-profile as she is ends up the musical guest, you either know what you’re getting or you don’t care. I fall into the latter camp. If you fall into the former, good news! She was probably fine.

Mark: I kind of liked the song where she rolled around on a table with a bunch of fruit around. Not enough to recommend to a friend, but enough that I think I will remember it for awhile.

Melissa’s Stray Season Finale Thoughts That She Didn’t Have Room For Anywhere Else:

– After many years on SNL, Bobby Moynihan is leaving the cast. It’s going to be really hard to ignore his absence next season, but he did a great job giving one of his most enduring characters, Drunk Uncle, a proper sendoff. Drunk Uncle was way more blatantly racist and crude than he’s been in the past, and I love it. This Drunk Uncle was one that you don’t really want to see come back.

– Vanessa Bayer is leaving the show this season as well, which is, to me, probably going to be the greater loss. In this episode, we saw her shine a few times. My favorite performance from her last night was in the sketch in which she plays a very gassy old Hollywood star who refers to her farts as “accidents.”

– To those still firmly aboard the David S. Pumpkins train: Tom Hanks makes a cameo as David S. Pimpkins, a featured artist in the sketch “Rap Song.” Speaking of Tom Hanks, his parodying Hillary Clinton’s excited pointing and waving during the monologue did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

– I think the only other person who could play Dwayne Johnson’s character in the “World’s Most Evil Invention” sketch and still make him funny is Christopher Walken, but that’s just my opinion.

– My top 3 episodes this season, in order: Dave Chapelle, Aziz Ansari, Krsten Wiig

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