As a 35-year fan of Saturday Night Live, it's depressing that so many SNL-inspired movies are D.O.A. in theaters. • Perhaps it's because people don't like paying to see what's available for free on TV. Maybe SNL mastermind Lorne Michaels really is Dr. Evil — he was Mike Myers' role model — who would be happy with box offices grosses of one millllllion dollars. Why else would Michaels beat his head and wallet against the wall so often? • In dishonor of the latest Saturday Night Live cinematic spin-off, we present the best and worst movies based on SNL characters.
Saturday Night, dead:
1. It's Pat (1994): Even the possibility of revealing the gender of Julia Sweeney's sexually ambiguous character could not bring SNL fans into theaters. Not that they could find It's Pat there, anyway. Disney took the movie off its release schedule but allowed a few midnight showings that tanked.
2. Blues Brothers 2000 (1998) : By 1998, Belushi was dead and the band just a nostalgic novelty. John Goodman wasn't a worthy replacement and the musical legends were largely crammed into a climactic super band jam session.
3. Mr. Mike's Mondo Video (1979) : The late Mike O'Donoghue was the TV show's most twisted comedy writer in the early days, with "jokes" like impersonating celebrities with knitting needles jammed in their eyes. NBC ordered a pilot for a series, gasped at the results and refused to air it. So, it briefly went to movie theaters. O'Donoghue's parody of 1962's lurid Mondo Cane documentary included Aykroyd showing off his webbed toes, Sid Vicious singing My Way and the new LaserBra 2000 military weapon. It reads much better than it plays.
Saturday Night, lively:
1. The Blues Brothers (1980): Proving beyond any doubt that turning sketch comedy into movies is a bad idea, the best SNL movie by far isn't based on a sketch. Dan Aykroyd and the late, great John Belushi transformed love of the blues into a band that Michaels first allowed on the air only because they wore bee costumes while performing Slim Harpo's I'm a King Bee.
2. Wayne's World (1992): With one "schwing!" of the bat, Mike Myers and Dana Carvey knocked it out of the park on TV and in the movies, playing airhead heavy metal fans hosting a public access cable TV show in Wayne's parents' basement.
3. Coneheads (1993): After The Blues Brothers and Wayne's World, it's a long way down to choosing a third-best SNL movie. I'll choose another Aykroyd creation, a family of aliens consuming mass quantities of beer and potato chips -- maybe because it reminds me so much of home.
Steve Persall, Times Film Critic