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Saturday Night Live (April 14th, 2007) – Shia LaBeouf & Avril Lavigne

Saturday Night Live

April 14th, 2007

Shia LaBeouf and Avril Lavigne

It’s a very youth-skewed Saturday Night Live with two early 20s younglings taking the stage. Does it result in a show which reflects the revived nature of the Digital Short generation, or does the show just drag them down with them? Let’s take a look.

The Monologue

It was clear that LaBeouf was fairly uncomfortable, as he immediately headed out into the backstage area and basically had the rest of the cast carry the monologue for him while he played a rather manic and simplistic straight man. It was cute, sure, but it was certainly not enough to make me have great hopes for LeBouf’s ability to carry the show.

The Host

Shia LaBeouf comes from a background of comedy, having spent years on Even Stevens on the Disney Channel, and yet it didn’t translate well into this scenario for the simple reason that the material just isn’t as polished. That sounds like an odd comment to make, but LaBeouf never really got to sink his teeth into a character, a common problem in the modern days of SNL. He’s just kind of there in pretty well every skit, and it resulted in a lack of an impact. I always feel like a host should be able to establish themselves, and yet LaBeouf was never given the chance even within the Digital Short. The only skit which Shia LeBouf really seemed to be in some way involved in was the one featuring ‘Shia’ LaBeouf with ‘Maya’ Rudolph, which was still him playing the straight man like in the monologue. He wasn’t a bad host, but rather an uneventful one.

The Skits

Yawn. I’m sorry, but the skits just don’t do it anymore, and I really don’t feel that Saturday Night Live is living up to its skits. The Prince Show is a great concept that seems to have been driven in the ground, and it has no depth beyond Armisen’s strong performance. The skit about kids buying beer had some really funny bits but ended so damn quickly I became annoyed at it, and the Sofa king sketch was just derivative. I like the Dakota Fanning Show as a concept, and it was nice to see Avril get involved in a sketch, and I like Keenan’s reactions…actually, I kind of liked that sketch. A lot. Really, the sketches weren’t too bad. The sketch between Shia and Maya (They rhyme!) was quirky, cute and charming…something that can’t be said for the rest of the show. And yet, in the end, it was still inconsequential, and none of the sketches will be remembered. Stuff like the Knives sketch was still all LaBeouf playing straight man, and I wish he would have had room to break out somewhere in there. The ‘Intimate Moment with John Mayer and Jessica Simpson’ was a smart little piece, didn’t run too long, and yet it was so short that it had little to no impact on the show as a whole.

The Digital Short

[Note: The Digital Short has been taken off YouTube, and is unlikely to return considering the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech.]

The basic premise: “Let’s Make fun of the use of overdramatic music in death scenes on TV shows.” The song in question was Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek,’ and it was quite effective as satire [Edit: Actually, it’s incredibly effective. Head to YouTube to watch the O.C. scene in question (Starts at 2:00) and it’s freakin’ hilarious]. The only problem is that it was really just the same joke being driven into the ground, which works fine as an overall statement but lacks the variety to make a digital short truly memorable. That being said, as someone who watches those shows I found it quite funny, and I think it has satirical value of a different sort than other digital shorts which is good for variety. [Edit: I now think it is bloody hilarious, it’s growing on me]

Weekend Update

Darrell Hammond does a great Imus, they did a decent job of dealing with the Anna Nicole baby situation (Rudolph and Samberg nailed that short interview piece), so on the whole it was a half decent edition of Weekend Update. I think it could have done better with the material, but there was nothing which intensely disagreed with me.

The Musical Guest: Avril Lavigne

Songs Performed: ‘Girlfriend’ [Music Video – YouTube] and ‘I Can Do Better’ [MP3 – YouSendIt] from The Best Damn Thing

I think that ‘Girlfriend’ is a cute little song that has potential from a summer single perspective, and I’m glad to see that there was not a full choreographed dance routine when performed live, but there was still far too much dancing for someone like Lavigne who should simply not be dancing. The problem is that her second song (‘I Can do Better’) also featured odd choreography and a lyric which was just terrible. It even had the same really annoying cheerleader bridge that just isn’t worth anyone’s time, and the melody of the song more or less disappeared when performed live. Avril’s voice is best on ballads and songs with melody, not these worthless attempts at emulating Gwen Stefani and a derivative version of herself. After reaching some level of maturity or at least mature-esque behaviour with the last album, this is kind of insulting. [Random Note? I totally just realized that the guy playing guitar for Avril Lavigne was the guitar player for the House Band on Rock Star: INXS. And that makes me mildly amused.]

The Verdict

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Box Office ‘Disturbia’ (April 14-16) – Friday Estimates, Projections

You see, sometimes the Box Office needs to make up its bloody mind. The past year has seen internet-focused films like Grindhouse and Snakes on a Plane fail to meet expectations, struggling to emerge from their internet-audience into a broader spectrum. And yet, this weekend has marked the success of a film that had little-to-no mainstream hype, a plot ripped almost straight from Rear Window (Although you could do far worse than Hitchcock), no truly mainstream lead, and a limited marketing push on television coupled with an extensive internet advertising campaign centered on sites like Ain’t It Cool News. That film was Disturbia.

Friday Estimates – Top 5

1. Disturbia -$8.7 Million

2. Blades of Glory – $4.3 Million (-50.8%)

3. Perfect Stranger – $3.9 Million

4. Meet the Robinsons – $3.1 Million (-54.3%)

5. Are We Done Yet? – 2.4 Million (-55.3%)

6. Pathfinder: Legend of the Ghost Warrior – $1.7 Million

8. Redline – $1.4 Million

10. Grindhouse – $1.3 Million (-73.9%)

11. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theatres – $1.3 Million

First off, I think this shall now be officially declared the Spring/Summer of Shia LaBeouf, considering that he’s starring in Transformers and will likely start shooting Indiana Jones 4 during this period. This 21-year old (He’s my age, this is terrifying) has made a name for himself as a talented actor and someone for the future, but that was all supposed to start with Transformers. That fact that Disturbia stands to make $23 Million or so is absolutely astonishing, and destroys most predictions made for the film’s box office fortunes. It’s a huge coup for Dreamworks, and should be a huge coup for young LeBeouf as well.

Perfect Stranger, the other big release, had Halle Berry and Bruce Willis…and yet more or less bombed. The reason is simple: the film didn’t look very good. Berry has yet to be a box office draw since her Oscar win, since X-Men had nothing to do with her, and people like to see Bruce Willis playing either sarcastic or full-on action here. This doesn’t do much to hurt Willis heading into Live Free or Die Hard, but Berry’s star is falling fast. Meanwhile, the other three debuts were, as expected, tepid at best. Crashing a fancy car did nothing for Redline’s box office fortunes, Karl Urban is unsurprisingly not a large enough draw to carry a Viking film, and ATHF did alright for a niche release.

Among holdovers, drops were high as expected due to last week’s Friday holiday, but films held on at fairly standard levels…except for Grindhouse. I singled it out for an absolutely disastrous week-over-week drop of 74%. The film has sunk, and whether Weinstein splits Grindhouse into two parts or not I just think that the films don’t have an audience big enough to make it work. It’s a fine piece of art, but people weren’t looking for art in their cinema.

So, what does this mean for the Top 5 Weekend totals? Without looking at sites which actually do this on a regular basis, here are my educated guesses:

Weekend Projections

1. Disturbia – $22.7 Million

2. Blades of Glory – $14.3 Million

3. Meet the Robinsons – $11.8 Million

4. Perfect Stranger – $10.1 Million

5. Are We Done Yet? – $8.1 Million

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