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Was Jeremy Renner the Worst Two-Time Oscar Nominee to Ever Host "Saturday Night Live"?

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | November 18, 2012 | Comments ()


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Is Jeremy Renner a good actor? He's been nominated for two Oscars, but think about it: Have we ever seen Jeremy Renner in any mode but squinty and intense? He never has love interests, and he barely ever smiles in his films. He's never displayed a softer or more comedic side. He does intense like a mother*cker, but last night's Saturday Night Live really exposed Renner's limited range. He is terrible comedic actor; he's too self-aware, too bottled up. In an interview earlier this week, he said he asked Jon Hamm for advice about how to approach the show, and Hamm told him to let it go, jump into the experience, and be as silly as possible, and just don't think about it.

Renner thought about it. He's got an outstanding singing voice, but his monologue -- where he sang made-up songs inspired by his films -- was so weirdly hesitant and bashful. It was somewhat endearing, but also frustrating, and I felt like Lorne Michaels was probably grumbling under his breath, "Dude, stop saying 'I can't believe I'm doing this.'" He was like the novelist turning over the first draft of his book to a friend and reminding him, over and over, "It's just a first draft." Yeah. We know dude. Let it go.

Unfortunately, because there was copyrighted music used during the monologue -- which was the only really interesting part of last night's episode -- it's not available for embed.

As for the rest of the show: It was one of those half-assed efforts where the cast was clearly trying to work around Renner's weaknesses as a comedic actor by having him, for instance, play himself on the movie set opposite an annoying extra.

Or, as his character in The Avengers, bailing out of a fight because he quickly runs out of arrows.

In the Digital Short-esque sketch, Jeremy Renner played "Jeremy Renner" in a three-person stand-off, which was funnier in premise than in execution.

"SNL" took up the David Petraeus scandal in two different sketches, and neither or worth embedding because they were horribly unfunny. Likewise, the first sketch after the monologue was the tedious "The Californians" again. Fred Armisen, at least, seemed to recognize that the only reason the sketch was funny the first time was because everyone kept breaking character, so he spent the entire sketch trying to contain his laughter, although I have no idea what was so funny that he couldn't stop laughing.

At least, Weekend Update was fun, highlighted by a Winners/Losers on the Patraeus scandal and an amusing appearance by the actual Chris Christie, who was a more natural fit to "SNL" than Jeremy Renner was.

Finally, I don't know if anyone has ever really wanted a brilliant Katt Williams impersonation, but Jay Pharaoh brought one to a Weekend Update segment.




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  • Buck Forty

    Can I ask a question that I've wanted to ask for a long time now? Of course I can, that was rhetorical. My question is:

    Why does Pajiba keep running posts about how crap SNL was? And then include a whole bunch of clips of the said crap show?

    If it and it's guest host are so consistently awful then why not just ignore it and let it die a death?

    For readers outside the US who haven't seen the show (I saw an ep during a holiday in Hawaii) yes, it is awful. Not funny at all.

  • Guest

    Man, have you ever seen any of his movies? No love interests? Women are in love with him all around the globe, watching "Neo Ned" or "Monkey Love" sex scenes! My heart beats fast during the hotel scene in "Bourne Legacy" (in Manila). If you haven't watch any of his movies, except Oscar nominated, you haven't right to judge his talent.

  • Man, have you ever seen any of his movies? No love interests? Women are in love with him all around the globe, watching "Neo Ned" or "Monkey Love" sex scenes! My heart beats fast during the hotel scene in "Bourne Legacy" (in Manila). OMG, are you killing me, dude? Keep calm and watch "Mask" then.
    Have you ever watched any of Renner's movie except "The Hurtlocker" and "The Town"? If you haven't, so stop talking about his talent: you cannot judge.

  • dizzylucy

    I liked Renner a lot in the Town, but aside from the gun stand off sketch, thought he was really hesitant and awkward most of the time.

    I wonder if the live element throws some of these film/TV actors off, if they're more used to working with having the safety net of additional takes.

  • BlackCinemaAtLarge

    i didn't dare click on any of the embeds except for weekend update (seth always makes me laugh); the skits all looked absolutely dreadful just scrolling past them *cringe* i never find jay pharaoh funny--ever, but his impersonations are usually spot on. this one with katt williams was uncanny; i think his best yet.

  • Pentadactyl

    Maybe it was just because I was half asleep, but that last sketch with the morgue identification had me cracking up.

  • Green Lantern

    I thought that WAS goddamn Katt Williams.

    Jay Pharoh is pimpin', pimpin'.

  • Three_nineteen

    So you're saying you didn't watch The Unusuals. Renner played "intense cop" in that show too, but he had really good chemistry with Amber Tamblyn and they played off each other really well, with a lot of good banter. I think he just needs the right person to work with.

  • BiblioGlow

    I miss that show so much! The Unusuals, Life, and Touching Evil are on my 'unusual cop shows cancelled too soon' list. Sometimes New Amsterdam is on the list, too.

  • Three-nineteen

    US "Touching Evil" or UK ""Touching Evil"?

  • mswas

    I'm not a fan of my governor, and I didn't vote for him. But that sketch was pretty frickin' funny.

  • e jerry powell

    They didn't write a Jeffrey Dahmer sketch for him?

    I guess the writers do have lines they won't cross.

  • Javier

    no mention of the last sketch? the one in the morgue?
    that was the best one last night

  • alwaysanswerb

    I'm surprised that Renner didn't do better since he actually seems like such a goober off-screen.

  • I didn't watch it. The very idea of someone so intense (NGH) and serious doing SNL just made me cringe. I'm glad I missed out on him being embarrassed the whole time.

  • Sirilicious

    Does this mean people will stop baselessly mooning over Renner as well?

    I would like that. I have been ambivalent about him ever since he had a great guest role on Angel, where he also didn't convince me. It was a great episode (Somnambulist) but i think Renner actually held it back a bit.

  • AudioSuede

    I think it would probably be "baseless" mooning if The Hurt Locker, The Town, and The Unusuals had never existed. Then I'd be right there with you.

  • Sirilicious

    Heh, nice. :)

    So you are saying in those movies he was in another mode than squinty and intense?

    I saw 2 of those, and don't remember him as range-y.

  • AudioSuede

    Sorry, I thought you were saying people like Jeremy Renner for no reason, not that they shouldn't like him because he isn't good at slapstick comedy.

  • Why were all the members of Maroon 5 dressed like prison inmates?

  • Because apparently SNL can see into the Universe where justice reigns.

  • Mrs. Julien

    That right there is why YOU ARE THE MAN, zeke!

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I really enjoyed SNL last night! I don't know why the Californians was so early, but the monologue was really adorable. No, he didn't sell it, but it was AMAZING to see an actor genuinely reveal insecurities. And damn, can he sing.

    I thought most of the skits were amusing. Coulda done without the Dick Fuel skit (the episode seemed Sudeikis heavy) but that's what TiVo is for.

    Btw, I might walk away *more* impressed with an actor after an SNL performance, but my opinion generally isn't diminished by a poor performance. Improv/skit live performance doesn't require the same skill set as film.

  • AudioSuede

    I thought Weekend Update was the best it's been all season! They were on their game with the Petraeus stuff, and I totally disagree about the sketches you didn't embed; sure, they weren't burst-out-laughing surprise funny, but they were smart-funny, one that made me laugh more on the inside.

    Also, I think you're being way to harsh on Renner. Sure, the monologue was a fumbling, awkward experience, but that Avengers sketch was a great opportunity to make fun of his character, the Standoff sketch too. And I thought The Californians redeemed itself from the last awful showing because the cast was clearly having fun with each other; the reason they keep cracking up isn't entirely clear, but every time the camera would cut to one of the actors from Fred Armisen, especially Bill Hader, they had to quickly compose themselves, which says to me that they were probably trying to mess with him off camera.

    Chris Christie's delivery blew me away. It was like he was a cast member instead of a politician carefully parsing his words and actions. He seemed game in a way I've never seen from a political figure on SNL. If he wasn't such a bigot about gay marriage, I'd be sorely tempted to vote for him if he runs a campaign that's that candid.

    All in all, Renner's performance reminded me of the friend who never comes to the party because he's too busy, and finally shows up, and everyone's happy that he's there, even if he mostly just sits around being cool and smiling his way through. He was amiable, a bit awkward, maybe a little incredulous that he was there in the first place, but it seemed like the cast was enjoying themselves, and it showed.

    Oh, and despite the crowd clearly having no idea what was going on, Jay Pharaoh's Katt Williams impression deserves some sort of medal. Now he just needs to do a split-screen impression off with Katt Williams and Danny Brown and I'll be ready to give him all the everything.

  • kimk

    Yeah,I think this was a little harsh on Renner, too. He was not a great host but there have been plenty of not great hosts over the years, and I don't think being limited as a host necessarily correlates with being a limited actor (hell, Robert Downey Jr. was a not great cast member for a whole year). He was self-effacing and game, which sort of made his lack of comedic skill easier to take. Of course, maybe I was blinded by my irrationally strong hate of Maroon 5 (side note: I am really missing the weekly attacks on Adam Levine on "American Horror Story").

    I don't know if the Katt Williams stuff was particularly funny, but that was an uncanny impersonation.

  • sean

    It actually took me a few seconds to realize it wasn't the real Katt. Of course, I was drunk. But, it was fabulous.

  • Green Lantern

    Sean - I was sober and even *I* was pimpsmacked.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I think Hader was definitely messing with people last night. Poor Taran taking his abuse during the corpse scene was cracking me up.

  • Let's all be frank; the Californians was never a good sketch. But really, besides the standoff video, Bobby Moynihan having far too much fun as the Hulk and parts of Weekend Update, this was a really weak episode.

    Also, the complete bewilderment by the majority of the SNL audience at a Katt Williams impersonation was delightful.

  • buell

    A local funeral home is looking for a makeup artist... he should send in his resume.

  • PuraPuma

    I loved Weekend Update and I laughed at the gun skit. I guess I'm the only one.

  • Right there with you for the gun sketch. For some reason, I found it charming.

  • Anthony Hoffman

    The piano miscue during the monologue didn't help. Just a totally forgettable episode.

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