Published May 05, 2019Adam Sandler made his long-awaited, highly anticipated, and ultimately triumphant return to Saturday Night Live, and Shawn Mendes had the audience roaring. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.
The cold open
After fake throwing to a C-Span spoof of Attorney General Bill Barr's testimony from this past week, the show instead led with a round of celebrity Family Feud, featuring Kenan Thompson's Steve Harvey and a showdown between characters from Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame. Other than Leslie Jones replacing Groot's famous catchphrase with a funnier one, there wasn't a whole lot to this and none of the impressions made much of an impact.
Adam Sandler returned to the show that made him famous, but also fired him. As such, he sang a very funny song about the severance, with backup from Chris Rock and, briefly Pete Davidson, which concluded with the Sandman quite literally having the last laugh.
Chaos in Tripoli
In a remote CNN broadcast from a warzone, Mikey Day plays a reporter who is streaming his report via Snapchat. After an explosion, his phone is damaged, his Snapchat filters malfunction, and he, and a militia leader with an indiscriminate accent, played by Sandler, end up distorted in all sorts of cutesy and pretty funny ways.
It feels like it's been a while since comedy pals Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney have teamed up for something uniquely and weirdly them. This remote music video scratched an itch for fans, as it was a preposterously and hilariously childish power ballad about so many of our holes, and roped in Sandler for a guitar god cameo to boot.
Sandler played an Italian travel package salesman who offered some stark, but honest, predictions about what his company can do for you. In a great bit (which, based on its cutting smarts, was likely jammed on by Sandler's old SNL cronies, Tim Herlihy and Robert Smigel), Sandler's Romano painstakingly explained that, no matter how wonderful a destination Italy may well be, it will still be the "same sad you" trying to rest and relax.
Sandler Family Reunion 2019
In the vein of sketches like the Walken Family Reunion, in which cast members tried their hand at their best (and purposefully worst) Christopher Walken impressions, the Sandler version was rewarding for fans with some good cameos. Cast members (plus Shawn Mendes) not only pulled off general takes on the host, a few played some of his most popular film characters (Melissa Villaseñor's Bobby "The Waterboy" Boucher was excellent) and comedic inspirations (including Kristen Wiig, as his hysterical mom, and Jimmy Fallon as an older relative who may have written "The Hanukkah Song"), suggesting that maybe his ideas weren't all that original after all.
A very amusing fake ad, Beck Bennett plays a son asking his dad, played by Sandler, for advice about erectile dysfunction. Unfortunately, he gets more info than he bargained for when his parents admit they've been using a "pill" for enhancement that is clearly a butt plug. This was well done.
People in the audience screamed, as Shawn Mendes strutted through his upbeat pop single, "If I Can't Have You," and SNL got what they wanted in asking a teen heartthrob to play songs on the show this week, so the they might cater to a tween demographic. Mendes returned to play 2018's "In My Blood," muscular arms bared, alternating from piano to electric guitar, like an over-eager Springsteen, and emoting with exuberant joy. Again, for his fans, they couldn't have gotten any more and, with at least some hook-y choruses, maybe Mendes converted some viewers too.
The news was frontloaded with U.S. politics jokes and Michael Che and Colin Jost each got in some decent bits about various Washington items, though nothing got a bigger laugh in NYC than Che dragging Mayor Bill de Blasio for maybe running for president. Kate McKinnon took to the desk with her rather perfect Elizabeth Warren impersonation, but this was about 90 seconds longer than it needed to be.
But for fans wondering, the segment finally delivered and Sandler reprised his classic character, Operaman, whose silly musical news roundup was worth the 24-year wait.
Weirdly, this five-to-one Kate McKinnon vehicle showed up about 20 minutes early. McKinnon's promiscuous lush usually makes out with the host after some gross foreplay (that always exasperates Kenan Thompson's barkeep) and, with Sandler to her right, that seemed to be what was up. But then Kristen Wiig showed up to play Sandler's character's wife, and then things got pretty outta hand, with everyone's tongue wagging and lunging for another in a pretty formidable bit of physical comedy.
Sandler's 24-year absence from Studio 8H has been attributed to professional acrimony over his being fired from SNL. But what do we really know about his emotional state when it comes to the place where he made some of his best friends, one of whom he lost forever? There's some joy and pain there and it all came out, as he ended the show by singing his recently released tribute to the late Chris Farley. The song is funny, mostly because it alludes to some classic SNL bits, but it's mostly heart-wrenchingly sad and that Sandler can even get through it without sobbing, is a testament to his fortitude. This was touching and compelling TV.