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‘Saturday Night Live’ – Season 44, Episode 9 Review: Matt Damon/Mark Ronson & Miley Cyrus

From top to bottom, I found this to be one of the better episodes from SNL this season. Matt Damon came in to host the show’s final episode heading into its holiday break and he brought a warm stability to the show that it often lacks. He isn’t an incredibly high-strung host like Jason Momoa, but rather he has a cool and collected demeanor while still showing off enthusiasm and acting chops in the sketches. This was shockingly his first time hosting in sixteen years and only his second outing in the show’s history. Nevertheless, he was in complete command of the night from the jump of his opening monologue.

To begin the episode, Damon commented on watching the show as a little kid with his father and how presently he lets his own kids stay up late to watch the show. It was a nice little moment, one that spells to remind us how Saturday Night Live has brewed laughter for countless generations. While the quality of writing and performing waxes and wains, we are reminded that there is something inherently comforting about the show that has never quite eluded us.

All of my favorite sketches of the night included Matt Damon, and there were more sketches I found to be greater than usual. The top sketch features Damon and Kate McKinnon as hosts of a dog show, except this show is for dads. Handlers walked different “breeds” of dads out onto the platform, with hilarious commentary. This was followed by a hilarious digital short, with Damon and Cecily Strong acting as husband and wife, talking about how wonderful their Christmas was, with flashbacks to the nightmarish disaster that it really was. This felt so true to life and the two of them really shared great chemistry here.

The chemistry between Damon and Cecily continued with their “Jingle Bells” duet. With him on piano and her on the mic, they made for a hilarious duo performing an extremely New York version of the song. Later in the episode, a sketch centered around a dinner party argument between Matt Damon and Leslie Jones over the career of Weezer was damn funny as well. Leslie succeeded at maintaining character throughout the sketch, and the banter between the two of them was downright absurd.

Lastly, I wanted to give a small shoutout to this little bit Colin & Michael did on Weekend Update where the two of them wrote jokes for each other that the other one hadn’t seen until they rolled on the teleprompter. It is my favorite thing I have seen them do on Update in a while, providing hilarious readings where Michael would have Colin read racist jokes, among other things. The two of them have great chemistry that I always enjoy, but most of the time I find much of the writing on Update to be pretty bland, especially when they bring on guests. Here, however, the bit worked really well.

Overall I am really happy with how this episode turned out, especially considering it is the last we will see for a while. Their Christmas episodes are usually pretty heart-warming and cheerful, but having Matt Damon on proved to be a knockout choice. This episode featured some of my favorite skits of the season so far, with the best hit-to-miss ratio I can remember. Although I quite liked the first song performed by Miley Cyrus and guitarist Mark Ronson, I found both performances from the singer to be incredibly weird and grating. I did not expect her stage presence to be so lacking after all these years of stardom. Anyhow, the disappointing musical performances didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the episode. It left me feeling quite warm inside and ready to bring in the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

★★★★

Saturday Night Live is off for the holidays and its next episode to air in January is with date and host TBA

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