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STUDIO:  NBC/Lionsgate
MSRP:  $49.98
RATED:  Not Rated
RUNNING TIME:  Approx. 350 Minutes
Various Features on Each Disc

The Pitch

Sometimes Funny People Doing Sometimes Funny Things (aka Saturday Night Live)

The Humans

Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Eddie Murphy and John Belushi (and other members of their respective SNL castmates)

The Nutshell

5 discs encompassing the best of the featured cast members’ respective careers on Saturday Night Live

The Lowdown

John Belushi
I sort of look at John Belushi as the original Chris Farley, or at least who Farley modeled his SNL persona after.  John was frenetic, out of control and absolutely electric.  Going off on crazy tangents, breaking furniture, screaming at the top of his lungs (his Irish bit on Weekend Update pleasantly comes to mind).  He was without a doubt one of SNL’s original physical comedians.  However, there was another side to John – a quiet, tame performer who could be just as engaging without the hyper-enthusiastic theatrics (see “Don’t Look Back in Anger”).  That’s what separated him from Farley – his confidence.  He didn’t have to be over-the-top to be funny.  He didn’t have to hide behind his adrenaline, which is a quality that made him a bit more approachable and respected as a performer.

Another staple of Belushi’s SNL career was his musical prowess.  Everybody loves the Blues Brothers, but he was more than that in terms of the music.  His Joe Cocker impression was dead-on and shone a light on the fact that he was more than just a funny guy who liked to sing songs (a la Sandler), but he had actual talent.

Little brothers...
"So, uh, Jim, you wana be a comedian huh?  No…um…that’s great, you really show some…er…talent *snicker*"

There were essentially three John Belushis on SNL and all of them were a real treat to watch.  And I’m not just saying that because he’s dead.  The man is essentially a legend and one of the main reasons SNL garnered the positive reputation it did.

The disc itself is great, featuring the aforementioned sketches, as well as the Samurai Deli, the Incredible Hulk bit and the “Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger” sketch.  Great, great stuff all the way around.

Eddie Murphy
Eddie’s SNL legacy is really remembered fondly (by myself, anyway), but after watching this disc it’s apparent that he only really had three bits that stuck out, but those three bits were enough to catapult his reputation.  Those three bits of course being “Buckwheat Sings,” an amazing original sketch that was severely cheapened when the writers ran it into the ground; “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood,” which was rather spotty as far as the humor, but when it worked it really worked and “Velvet Jones’ School of Technology.”  This may just be personal taste showing here but, in my opinion, his James Brown bit is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen Eddie do (and, obviously, stands head and shoulders above the other three) and is at least on the top 20 of greatest SNL moments ever.  Okay, maybe not, but it’d be damn close.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show.  Tonight, if you look closely, you’ll actually see every bit of humor sucked straight out of this character."

Other notables would be his Stevie Wonder bits, but they’re really successful based on the supporting cast and the “Kill my landlord” poem definitely gets an honorable mention.

The disc is rather entertaining but it’ll probably end up being a case of skipping to your favorite bits and then moving on to another disc.

Adam Sandler
I’m not going to lie.  I was a HUGE fan of Adam Sandler when he was on SNL.  I adored Billy Madison and “They’re All Gonna Laugh At You” got more spins on my Walkman than almost any other disc back in the 90s.  Looking back now, I realize it wasn’t really because he was talented, but because I was in middle school.  There was one layer to Adam Sandler back then and it was silly.  That’s what he was, silly.  That’s it.  That’s the only way he could perform.  The elementary song lyrics and that “shabba-doo” accent were, as I see it, his crutches.  Sandler couldn’t carry a sketch as himself.  He needed those little quirks or Chris Farley or other cast to bounce off of.  Some of his most memorable bits prove that:  Lunch Lady Land wouldn’t have been near as funny were it not for Farley’s contribution, just like the Herlihy Boy stuff, the same with Alec Baldwin and the Canteen Boy sketch.  And if it wasn’t a cast member it was the guitar.

Every time...
This makes me giggle like an idiot every time I see it.

Now, here’s the surprise – I still don’t care.  I know the Hanukkah Song is simplistic and juvenile but it still makes me smile.  Operaman is the same way but it makes me giggle.  His Cheap Halloween Costumes bit is as stupid as it gets but it never fails to make me laugh (“Hey look at me, I’m Crazy Newspaper Face!”).  Plus I’m a sucker for a cast member who slips up and starts laughing in the middle of a sketch and Sandler did that a lot.  Some people may find that annoying or distracting, but I’ve always found it endearing and this is no exception.  Yes, I still enjoy Sandler’s stuff on SNL, the only difference is now I don’t look at Adam as some sort of comedic genius, I just realize my tastes sometimes err to the side of immature.  And I’m okay with that. 

Chris Farley
I dropped Farley’s name earlier in Belushi’s section and I really feel that that comparison is valid.  It really seemed that when Chris Farley was on screen, he was channeling every bit of Belushi’s energy that he could.  One of the greatest things about Farley was thet he wasn’t afraid to look ridiculous.  Whether it’s dressing up like a lunch lady and dancing around with people in food costumes or trying out as a Chippendale’s Dancer alongside Patrick Swayze, Chris put the laugh before anything else.  “Everybody goes home happy when the fat guy falls down,” he’d say.

Requiem for a dream...
It’s not widely known that Chris’ first love was golf, but when he realized that he’d never make the pro-tour, he decided to steal the famed Green Jacket.  As this security fotage shows – it did not go well.

The only problem with that is that 99% of the time, all you saw was The Fat Guy Who Fell down.  I feel like he sold himself short in that respect.  That’s not to say I don’t laugh my ass off when he and Swayze try to serve one another but there’s a select few sketches or performances that had Chris laid back or slowed down and it’s these sketches that showcase Farley’s timing and his ability to match the needed pace of the scene.  Now I’m no SNL historian and for all I know there may have been many, many more of these types of skits than I realize, but I really don’t think so.  A perfect example of this is “The Chris Farley Show.”  His interview with Paul McCartney (and I do realize he did more than one of these) is one of the funniest things Chris has ever done and, even though that could have very well been just an act, I think it’s a little bit of a look into what Chris was actually like off-camera.

In regards to the disc, there are the aforementioned skits, as well as the Matt Foley thing and the Japanese Game Show bit, among others.  It’s a pretty solid set.

Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell’s probably the easiest one to write about in this whole set – he’s just funny, plain and simple.  Whether he’s supporting, leading or flying solo, his timing is razor-sharp; his composure is almost always perfect and his natural charisma seeps out of the tv screen.  He’s another performer that isn’t afraid to look ridiculous to get the laugh, but what makes Ferrell stand out is that he’s not a one-trick pony.  He doesn’t have to be ridiculous to be funny and he can transition from the Tiny Cell Phone Guy to Craig the Spartan Cheerleader to Harry Carry to Robert Goulet to Bobby Culp without missing a beat.

I don't see it
"Look, I just don’t see how this is funny.  I mean, it’s a cowbell.  You hit it.  We’re supposed to make an entire sketch out of a cowbell?  This is gonna suck so hard."

His disc is pretty stacked as well, with all the skits mentioned above plus some Celebrity Jeopardy, the Bill Brasky bit, the Garth Brooks sells his soul bit and, of course, the infamous Blue Oyster Cult sketch.

When all the dust has settled and you get through all five discs, I think it’s safe to say that you’re left with one helluva set and if you’re a fan of SNL at any era, you’re guaranteed to find plenty to enjoy here.

The Package

The cover design on the slipcase is actually pretty lame, with the new SNL logo over the trademark time-lapsed blurry street scene background used in the opening credits of the show.  The digipak inside boasts the same artwork on the cover with the standard disc image from the standalone sets.  There is an insert with the covers from the standalones, and while it’s good that they managed to work in the performers’ photos in some form or fashion, they really missed a great opportunity for an awesome piece of design, what with all of these actors and all of their recognizable characters.  Ah well, que sera sera.

In the Bonus Department, there’s a few things on a few discs – Belushi gets some outtakes, a screen test and a nostalgic little mini-doc about people and their memories of John.  Eddie Murphy gets nothing, Adam Sandler gets a photo gallery consisting of screen shots from all of the sketches you just saw, Chris Farley gets some outtakes and TV interviews and Ferrell gets a screen test, some TV Interviews and some outtakes.

Considering how many years these guys were each on the show and the fact that there are 5 discs in this set, there could have been so many more extras added, hell, one more disc wouldn’t have hurt anything.  Again – a missed opportunity.

6.5 out of 10