Yes, we all know that Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson know how to kick some serious ass in the Panem arena, but that's just child's play. The toughest arena out there is the infamous Saturday Night Live stage in Studio 8H. Many go in, but only few come out with their heads held high.
Competitors come from far and wide to wield their comedy swords against the fierce beast that is Lorne Michaels, eager to prove that they have what it takes to be both an esteemed performer and a relatable human being. Hunger Games stars such as Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, and Lenny Kravitz have taken to the stage before, and soon their fellow dystopia resident Hutcherson is set to master comedy on a chilly Saturday night. While all of our Hunger Games actors might claim to have a funny bone or two, only one can come out victorious. So who will it be?
Jennifer LawrenceSome might jump the gun and announce J-Law the victor without a second thought, but unfortunately, her natural good humor might just be tricking us into believing that she is the funniest of them all. Lawrence has what it takes to tackle the media and film, but her performance on SNL in January 2013 proved that nerves can get the best of all of us. After handling her monologue with questionable capability, Lawrence exhibited a handful of sketches that were surprisingly awkward. However, she delivered her sketch dressed up as dog quite well. Lawrence is one of those actors who doesn't care if she looks silly (or so we're lead to believe), so her confidence adds 10 points to whatever she's doing.
Woody HarrelsonDon't let the resident Hunger Games sourpuss fool you — Harrelson knows how to make a crowd laugh. Not only did he host in 1989 before either Lawrence or Hutcherson were born, but he took the stage by storm once again in 1992. During his first stint, his monologue consisted of a song mostly inspired from reading a thesaurus, and in 1992 he showed that he wasn't afraid to show some skin when he whipped off his shirt in a sketch aptly titled, "Take off Your Shirt." Not to mention that he was aided by the comedy gold that is Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, and Nora Dunn.
Lenny KravitzKravitz is definitely the wildcard in the pack. The singer and actor has never hosted the late-night variety show, but he has been the musical guest twice and has cameoed in sketches. Additionally, he showed his comedy skills when he played a considerable part in Jimmy Kimmel's "Handsome Men's Club" sketch on his talk show. However, until we're able to see Kravitz take on the role of host, we're not sure that he would be able to beat out the other tributes.
Julianne MooreMoore entered the battlefield in 1998 and proved that she can hold her own up against the likes of Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, Cheri Oteri, and Darrell Hammond. Moore made her mark in "The Ladies' Man" sketch where she appeared in a sultry red dress in a bed alongside Meadows, and in the famous Gasteyer and Shannon sketch "The Delicious Dish" where she skillfully bantered on the radio as a brainwashed cult member. (Not to mention that she was paired up with musical guest Backstreet Boys, who were at their prime in the late '90s. Anyone that's deemed good enough for Backstreet Boys in 1998 must be doing something right.)
Josh HutchersonThis tribute is certainly the newest to the battle (and the youngest), but we have high hopes in his comedy skills. In his promos for SNL, he seemed like a complete natural next seasoned Bobby Moynihan. Moynihan puts him through the "SNL Initiation" to see if he's up for the challenge, and the good news is that he passes all of the tests with flying colors, which makes us think that he'll be quite the competitor.
Winner: Julianne Moore (mostly because we think she has the experience to handle anything), although we can't count out Hutcherson until this weekend when he hosts SNL alongside musical guest HAIM on Nov. 23 on NBC.
Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence is golden. Not only because she scored a Golden Globe win for her performance in the David O. Russell dramedy, but because she's quickly establishing herself as one of the most charming actresses this side of Emma Stone. And, with her debut appearance on Saturday Night Live, Lawrence continued to prove she could balance between genres. Drama, teen franchise, indie, sketch comedy —Lawrence's playbook is indeed golden.
Speaking of things golden, SNL's cold open centered on one of the most talked-about figures from Sunday's awards show: Jodie Foster, played by the increasingly valuable but criminally underused Kate McKinnon. While poking fun at the actress' quasi-coming-out speech, in which the actress paid tribute to "the voices of reason in my life: Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson," the sketch hit its high mark, with McKinnon stealing the spotlight from Jason Sudeikis, as a far-from-contrite Lance Armstrong, and Bobby Moynihan, as a wide-eyed Manti Te'o.
And it turns out the Golden Globes gave SNL plenty of milage, with Lawrence's monologue centering on audience's misunderstanding of her acceptance speech. With some viewers believing Lawrence was slamming Meryl Streep — "I beat Meryl" was actually a First Wives Club reference — the actress continued the Oscar smack talk during her monologue, slamming Jessica Chastain ("More like, Jessica Chas-ain't-winning-no-Oscar-on-my-watch!") and even 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis. ("You think you can beat me? Whatchu talkin' bout, Wallis?") Though the one-liners (and Bill Hader's stoic Tommy Lee Jones) impressed, Lawrence's busy schedule seemed to hold her back during the monologue — if she were relying on the cue cards anymore, you could call her Lindsay Lohan.
Lawrence seemed to hit her stride during SNL's inevitable Hunger Games sketch, which still left a bit to be desired for fans of the dystopian teen franchise. Though Lawrence played along well — making fun of her height-challenged co-star, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta — the post-game press conference concept relied too much on the sketch's secondary characters (reporters that don't exist in the books) than the primary beloved stars. Though Jay Pharoah's question to Peeta — "Have you been using performance-reducing drugs?" — did get some appreciation from the Armstrong-overdosed audience.
The actress' journey on Saturday Night Live continued with a pre-taped Hobbit bit that would have been much funnier if The Onion hadn't already written it a month before. (Though who doesn't identify with frustration surrounding Peter Jackson's insistence on filming in "s**t-vision"?)
Still, in Studio 8H, it played better than the next sketch, which starred Lawrence as a bona fide nasty waitress in an Ed Debevics-esque restaurant. That said, anyone who ever frequented Debevics and was privy to their patented lame insults would appreciate a waitress with real sass — one that told diners, "You peaked in high school, and now you'll sleep with anyone who asked."
But before you insult any jokes from this week's Weekend Update, Moynihan would beat you to it. Playing recurring character second-hand newsman Anthony Crispino, even the SNL cast member had to scoff at his own rib that "they have to raise the Depp ceiling" after Johnny Depp outgrew his mansion. (Cue: Sad trombone.) Seth Meyers, however, made up for the grown-worthy appearance with a zinger about Ann Romney's rumored (and debunked) casting on Dancing With the Stars: "She's probably not a good fit for the show anyway, because I've heard of her."
The next sketch parodied another beloved reality show, Top Chef, but in a world where dogs were allowed to compete. Relying heavily on puns (Padma Leash Me, Tom Collie-Cio, and a Crocks-wearing Mario Barktali were stars of the sketch), the skit was one of those that seemed born out of exhausted writers' rooms at midnight. Still, Lawrence worked, well, like a dog to help the sketch translate, proving to be more committed than the most loyal of pups.
Her commitment to the material only continued in the next sketch, which took place in Taran Killam and Moynihan's recurring Shakopee, Minn., radio station. Though predictable, Lawrence's rapping intern — who couldn't even rhyme "issues" with "tissues" during a flu-themed verse — was sick enough to sell the sketch.
But not quite as sick as "Danielle," a sketch parodying sex-fueled fare you'd find while channel-surfing late-night French TV. One of those wonderful skits that's not as funny as it is strange, "Danielle" delighted if only because it was easy to imagine SNL's writers wondering if they could pull off something so ridiculous. So, did they? Hardly — at least not as much as the following sketch, centered on the correspondences between a Civil War-era woman and her brazen fiancé (the underused Tim Robinson) who constantly demanded "a tit pic or something."
The final sketch earned plenty of chuckles, but it's unfortunate that the night's funniest sketch occurred in the first 10 minutes, sans Lawrence. Poking fun at Starbucks' spelling-plagued employees, the commercial for the Starbucks Verismo proved the coffee maker will mistake your simple name for something ridiculous, and complain to its co-worker Verquonica when it gets your order wrong. The faux-commercial served as a shot of caffeine to the episode which could have used a jolt much later.
Still, Hunger Games star Lawrence was easy to digest in the comedy genre, helping elevate rusty, post-vacation writers' bits to laugh-out-loud status. And the experience in live TV should do Lawrence good — after all, she has to prepare for the moment she accepts Oscar gold in real time.
[Image Credit: NBC]
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The names have been chosen, and the odds were ever in the favor of 11 actors who round out the rest of the cast of the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. Joining the ranks of Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, and Donald Sutherland, these names were released by Lionsgate in one big fell swoop, quite the opposite of how they oh-so-slowly announced new additions such as Sam Claflin as heartthrob Finnick O’Dair and Jena Malone as lethal Johanna Mason over the past few months.
The new cast members (listed in full below) make up the rest of the (SPOILER ALERT) tributes who previously won their respective Hunger Games and will now be forced to compete again. This all-star version is for the Quarter Quell, the 75th anniversary of the Capitol’s defeat over the rebelling Districts and the resulting annual battle-to-the-death competition.
Catching Fire has already started shooting in Georgia this month, before moving to Hawaii to shoot the tropical arena in which the bloody competition takes place. The film will hit theaters next Thanksgiving.
The rest of the tributes:
James Logan: Tribute from District 5
Ivette Li-Sanchez: Tribute from District 5
Justin Hix: Tribute from District 6
Megan Hayes: Tribute from District 6
Bobby Jordan: Blight from District 7
John Casino: Woof from District 8
Elena Sanchez: Cecelia from District 8
Daniel Bernhardt: Tribute from District 9
Marian Greene: Tribute from District 9
Jackson Spidell: Tribute from District 10
Tiffany Waxler: Tribute from District 10
[Photo Credit: Lionsgate]
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