The Saturday Night Live comedy mill has produced its share of stars. But those stars have produced a prolific stream of cinematic bile. That’s not overstating matters, as will soon be clear. The sketch comedy’s tendency to drive a joke into the ground doesn’t bode well for the big screen. With MacGruber on the horizon, the question is whether the MacGyver spoof will be a comedy blockbuster on the level of the Austin Powers series or a ticking time bomb on par with the following.
10. Cabin Boy
Chris Elliott was an underutilized member of SNL. So was Chris Rock, though, so that’s doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But would his first big release, Cabin Boy, let him break out of his shell and show how far his comedy could reach? Nope. It sank at the box office. While Elliott’s tale has its flashes of surreal brilliance, by the end viewers will be glad the voyage is over.
9. Stuart Saves His Family
A comedy about self-help shouldn’t feel like going through a 12-step program. While the Stuart Smalley bit on SNL worked by lampooning therapy culture, Stuart Saves His Family founders by taking itself little too seriously. As Stuart (played by Al Franken) tries to reform his booze-swilling dad and save his family, the jokes dry up as the movie aims toward a light version of Ordinary People.
Molly Shannon as pom-pom shaker Mary Katherine Gallagher has always been only sort of funny. A dynamo of Catholic guilt, unbridled lust, and endless enthusiasm, Shannon’s Gallagher is a likable enough character. Here, Gallagher wants nothing more than to French football jock Will Ferrell. Besides that, Superstar is pretty much the SNL sketch with 70 minutes of filler.
People. Talking. Like. This. The. Entire. Film. Coneheads was adapted long after the sketch had been a staple on SNL. By the time the Dan Aykroyd-Jane Curtin vehicle was released, many younger audience members were no longer familiar with the original sketch and must have puzzled over why one might think that aliens talking like electric shavers was funny.
6. Little Nicky
Adam Sandler plays the son of the Devil in this hellish movie. Joining the torment are SNL alums Jon Lovitz, Dana Carvey, Rob Schneider, and Kevin Nealon. But even by Sandler’s standards, this is the one of the worst of the lot — overblown and overstuffed with cameos (Harvey Keitel, Rodney Dangerfield, Ozzy Osbourne), the most grating problem of all being Sandler’s grating screen presence.
5. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
This movie suffers by comparison to The Ladies Man and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo — and that’s saying a lot. Rob Schneider’s fish-tank cleaner turned lover man to the lame now heads for Amsterdam. Roger Ebert famously granted the movie zero stars and was particularly vicious to its actor: “Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.”
4. Blues Brothers 2000
The first Blues Brothers movie started the curious trend of turning eight-minute sketches into two-hour features. That can be forgiven. But this sequel just has too many problems. First, it’s absent the late John Belushi. Also a plot. Most unacceptable of all, it adds a cute little kid to the Blues Brothers’ team. Doesn’t 10-year-old Buster (actual name!) look adorable in his black suit? Snooze.
3. The Adventures of Pluto Nash
It’s been a long way down for Eddie Murphy, since his days as Velvet Jones, on SNL. So it’s not a question of which Eddie Murphy is awful — but which one sinks lowest. Is this one lower than Norbit? Absolutely. The Adventures of Pluto Nash is a failure of Leonard Part 6 proportion, proving again that the sci-fi-comedy genre isn’t something to fuss around with.
2. A Night at the Roxbury
More like a night in solitary confinement? Traction? It’s amazing that a comedy can be this depressing. Admittedly, the premise is wafer thin: two over-the-hill club hoppers not acting their age. Add some plot frosting (they want to start their own club!) and shoehorned emotional development, and the whole affair ends up feeling like a hangover that lasts precisely 82 minutes.
1. It’s Pat
It’s the epitome of a one-joke movie. Quentin Tarantino pitched in on the script, and even he couldn’t help. This movie’s reason for existence is as unclear as its main character’s gender. Squealing like a wounded animal, Pat’s presence grates for the movie’s entire running. Not even Michael Haneke would be so cruel to his audience.