SNL Ranked: Ryan Gosling Cracks Up in a Mostly Wonderful, Weird Episode
After taking a bit of a break from acting to make his directorial debut (and to have what I presume is a very adorable baby with Eva Mendes), Ryan Gosling is back. In addition to starring in upcoming films from Adam McKay and Shane Black, the actor is cementing his return with his SNL debut. Gosling can't keep a straight face through most of the episode, which delivers some really weird and delightful sketches with few disappointments. Read on for our ranking of this week's SNL sketches from best to worst.
Santa Baby (Gosling, Bennett, Bayer, Bryant, Thompson)
This week's short features Gosling and Bayer as a grown man who staunchly believes in Santa, and his wife who has a weird Santa fetish. It's clearly a riff on Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer in Pulp Fiction, but instead of money they're after a fictional Christmas character — so hilariously weird and specific.
Settl (McKinnon, Zamata, Bayer, Killam, Jones, Davidson, Mooney)
It's nowhere near as amazing as Tina Fey's 1-900-OK-FACE from 30 Rock, but Settl is damn close. A dating app that guarantees you'll go on an OK date with an OK person because you're at the point where you're just desperate enough to settle for a guy who doesn't have a car, or whose greatest life achievement is managing a PetCo. Nailed it, SNL. Especially you, Leslie Jones.
Close Encounter (Bryant, Moynihan, Strong, McKinnon, Gosling)
Kate McKinnon owns this sketch about three backwoods buddies giving a statement about their close encounter to a pair of government agents. Gosling, Strong, Moynihan and Bryant almost lose it several times while listening to her describe, in great details, how the aliens watched her use a bowl as a toilet. Even McKinnon cracks up a couple of times. This is peak McKinnon — she's lewd and blunt and deadpan and hilarious.
Birthday Party (Bryant, Bayer, Zamata, Strong, McKinnon, Gosling)
Lil Baby Aidy! Morgan is the best. Bryant's faux-sexually-advanced, woefully misguided and naive teen character hits on her friend's dad, with Gosling playing a solid straight man to her (very, very) gross come-ons. "Beef mate" is an A+ hot dude nickname. Gosling cracks up in yet another sketch, but I forgive him because who could possibly avoid laughing during Bryant's antics?
Nespresso (Moynihan, Killam, McKinnon)
Killam is nothing like Clooney, but somehow nails his expressions and near-mythical coolness in this WTF Nespresso ad without Moynihan's Danny DeVito constantly reminding you. I have no idea who came up with this or how — is it like an English-language version of one of those foreign commercials featuring A-list actors? Whatever bizarre A Beautiful Mind magic came together to make this happen, it's kind of brilliant.
Hometown Interview (Gosling, Strong, Moynihan, Mooney)
Mooney is playing some totally cartoonish, Gene Wilder version of an ’80s movie villain who interrupts Ryan Gosling’s interview with GQ to embarrass him about his singing and dancing past (these things are true; it's all on YouTube and it's glorious) and call him by really dumb nicknames. It's not Mooney's best work — that said, it wins me over by the end as a showcase for Gosling's general lovability and Mooney's ridiculous commitment to dumb, senseless characters. If you're drinking every time Gosling cracks up during a sketch, you're wasted by now.
Weekend Update (Jost, Che, Strong, Moynihan, Gosling)
Man, these Republican presidential candidates are such easy targets. It's hard to clown on guys who clown themselves daily. Che seems genuinely agitated with our current political climate, and it's the most direct SNL has gotten on politics in a while.
Strong pops in as a Glamour magazine reporter, and unfortunately not as The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party, although...they could be the same thing. It's a pretty spot-on imitation of a girl who relentlessly does the needy, helpless baby thing.
And Moynihan drops by as our favorite second-hand news guy Anthony Crispino with Gosling playing his pal Angelo, who gets all his news third-hand. You hear about Star Wars: The Four Jamaicans, directed by Jar Jar Abrams?
Monologue (Gosling, Myers!, Ensemble)
Gosling takes the stage with a quick bit about his quasi-faux-New York accent before Mike Myers joins him on stage to remind us of a time when we loved him...and unfortunately there's a song. At least it has some fairly charming tap-dancing and a lot of "sowrry" and "aboot."
The Wiz (Jones, Thompson, Zamata, Pharoah, Che, Gosling)
Watch what happens when white Scarecrow stumbles into East Oz and meets the black cast of The Wiz. This almost seems like a response to the oblivious, ignorant white people on Twitter complaining about the show's entirely black cast. While Gosling does a wonderful classic Scarecrow, and Jones and Thompson have a couple of great lines, and Gosling manages to keep a straight face for once, this sketch is far from the best of the evening.
Santa and the Elves (Moynihan, Thompson, Bayer, Gosling)
SNL is really into dirty Santa stuff this week, huh? Those masochistic elves are back, joined by Gosling, and this time they're trying to make Santa angry enough to dole out some naughty punishments. These guys are having so much indulgent fun with this, but I wasn't exactly in love with the BDSM elves thing the first time around, and it feels like they're really trying to kill the last five minutes of this episode. Eh, it's okay.
Donald and Melania Trump Christmas Cold Open (Killam, Strong)
There are many reasons I don't want Donald Trump to become President, but one of the top five has to be so I don't have to see Taran Killam's impression of him for four years. It's not that it's awful, but it's not up to par with Darrell Hammond's, and Trump is just so easy — which also says a good deal about his lame personality. Anyway, here's Trump's naughty or nice list, which is okay: