STUDIO: Lions Gate
MSRP: $19.98 Each RATED: NR
RUNNING TIME: 86 & 94 Minutes
• Non-televised sketches
• Photo gallery

• Audition
• Dress Rehearsal
• TV Appearance

I seem to remember Saturday Night Live being funny when I was growing up. How has it fallen so low? They have the talent and the writers – but why does the show suck week in and week out? Are they so strapped for ideas that the skits they produce are really the best ones they can come up with?

That line of questioning parallels these DVD releases. The Best of Jon Lovitz? OK, that makes sense. He was a cast member for quite some time and a darn entertaining fellow. But, a Best of Tom Hanks? He wasn’t even a cast member. He gets his own DVD? That seems like a desperate play for money. I’m all for exploiting any market – but was anyone breaking down Lorne Michaels’ door for this?

Tina Fey’s “O” Face.

The Shows

Both of these disks are funny, for the most part. They are paced out like a Saturday Night Live episode. Both start with a sketch that includes the famous “Live from New York” line. The Hanks disk then launches into a monologue segment, which is a nice touch.

Here’s the problem, however. They both start dragging in the middle. Dragging bad. Dragging like John Belushi around mile 10 of a marathon bad. These are Best Of disks! Don’t they have enough footage to make one decent 90 minute disk? If they don’t… shouldn’t that be all the more reason to NOT make the disk in the first place?

With the Star Wars saga complete and all Star Trek episodes off the air, geeks everywhere are crawling into the workforce.

The Hanks disk starts off OK with a sketch about the 1998 Olympics. There isn’t anything too memorable about it – except how stupid Hanks looks in a powder blue Cowboy outfit.

The next segment is easily the best of either of the disks – The 5- Timer’s Club. It is taken from Hanks’ 5th turn as host of the show. The sketch revolves around his acceptance into the exclusive 5- Timer’s Club (those who have hosted at least 5 times) and it contains appearances by Steve Martin, Paul Simon and Elliot Gould.

Wayne Campbell’s “O” Face.

The thing that makes so many of the sketches on this disk work is Hanks. In a day when he only takes roles in the bound-to-be-crap Da Vinci Code we forget that this is the guy who cut his teeth with Bosom Buddies and Bachelor Party. He has great comic timing and it shows throughout the disk. Other highlights include: Mr. Short Term Memory (think Memento as a comedy), The guy who played Mr. Belvedere Fan Club and a great lampoon of Big (featuring outtakes from the original script where Josh gets big and then becomes a bully).

One problem with the Hanks disk is evident in the third sketch on the disk, a Wayne’s World skit with Aerosmith. The problem is that Hanks isn’t in it much. And his character is completely useless filler (i.e. – Let’s Get The Host In Randomly). The sketch itself is OK, when Hanks isn’t in it. Other sketches on the disk that feel the same are ones with the Spartan Cheerleaders, the Roxbury guys, a Masterpiece Theater rip off and a Weekend Update segment where the always hot Tina Fey interviews Wilson The Volleyball from Castaway.

Suddenly Kathleen Turner sees a vision of herself in the future.

There are another seven sketches on the disk, beyond those mentioned above. For the most part they are pretty bland – although they do feature Hanks quite a bit.

The Lovitz disk is more of the same – some really good stuff and some bad stuff. Most of it, however, is solidly OK. Nothing too great in either direction.

Lovitz is his most entertaining when playing a character that is despicable. You immediately want to hate him. It’s his shtick and he plays it perfectly. Most notable is probably the Lying Man (“yea… that’s the ticket”). That character has two sketches on this disk (one too many), the first with Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall (which is obviously on the disk solely for the extra star power) and one with Pee Wee Herman (in easily the best sketch on the disk).

Margaret Thatcher’s “O” Face.

Another great skit has him playing the Devil as the plaintiff on the People’s Court. He is hysterical in the sketch, as everything he does (from his entrance, costume, lines, etc.) is done perfectly.

Some of the hit or miss sketches have Lovitz impersonating someone (instead of him playing a character). One sketch has him impersonating Andrew “Dice” Clay. I didn’t think the Diceman was important enough to be lampooned.

He also portrays Michael Dukakis in one mediocre sketch. This sketch wasn’t that funny – but it made me laugh in the same way that a Best Of disk with someone playing John Kerry will make me laugh in 20 years.

I am never using a web site to order my Halloween costume again. This looks nothing like the Darth Maul I thought I was buying.

One odd thing to note is that disk also has two sketches with Tom Hanks. The sketches are even similar (same characters) as two of the sketches on the Tom Hanks disk. There is a “losers” sketch (where Hanks and Lovitz try and pick up women) and a “back stage at a comedy club.”

The “Losers” sketch sucked on both disks. Neither the characters nor the situations are funny. Both seem like complete time filler and I wonder why they were included on either disk (especially for Lovitz who should have a lot of material to put on this thing). The “Backstage” skit was more or less the same on both disks. The Lovitz disk, however, has the better version of it.

Ultimately I wonder who these disks are made for. Is anyone out there really collecting the Best of Saturday Night Live disks? And, if you have the Chris Rock, Adam Sandler or Chris Farley disks, are these really two that you’ll be adding to your collection?

Best of Tom Hanks: 6 out of 10

Best of Jon Lovitz: 5.75 out of 10

The Look

These disks look like they were produced for live, late night television and dumped onto DVD. They didn’t do anything to tinker with the technical aspects of the disk. Technically, it is just like you remember the show (which, judging by its ratings, no one has watched since Anthony Michael Hall left the cast).

4 out of 10

Mick Jagger’s “O” Face.

The Noise

More of the same. The show hasn’t been on the air for 25 years because of its great technical achievements. The sound is AOK. You can hear the jokes just fine.

Oddly, the music on the title and menu screens sounds great. It comes through really well. Odd that they would have put a little extra effort into that part of the disks.

5 out of 10

Assuming this is true – that means the crappy segments that air on SNL every week are the GOOD ones!

The Goodies

Both disks only have a few extras. Present on both disks is a photo gallery. Nothing that special there.

There are also unaired sketches on each disk. That’s a neat extra. Apparently more skits are written than actually aired (which is shocking, given the crap they put on toward the end of an episode). The Hanks disk contains a two unaired skits (that are both rather funny) and the Lovitz one has one (which is rather unfunny).

The Lovtiz disk also contains a clip from Jon on the Conan O’Brien show. This segment is the funniest thing on the disk. Watching Conan and Jon interact is fantastic.

6 out of 10

Screw the donuts! It’s time to fondle the co-star.

The Artwork

This artwork for these disks would make more sense if they were part of a package. Like one of those 20 disk sets that COSTCO would sell or something. So, if you are collecting all the Best of Saturday Night Live disks… it probably looks very uniform. Otherwise you are given a giant head of Lovitz or Hanks. And, let’s face it, no one (not even his mother) needs a picture that big of Jon Lovitz’s head.

3 out of 10

Best of Saturday Night Live Tom Hanks: 4.8 out of 10
Best of Saturday Night Live Jon Lovitz: 4.75 out of 10