‘SNL’ cold open draws scorn, but Adam Driver saves the day, with help from a cameo by Julia Stiles

Adam Driver took another turn hosting SNL over the weekend, and while his comedy chops were once again on full display, it was a controversial cold open and later a cameo and call back to a 2001 movie that had viewers talking.

Driver hosted the show for a fourth time, with pop star Olivia Rodrigo serving as the musical guest this time around. After a cold open that didn’t seem to sit well with viewers, Driver did his best to turn things around. A special appearance by actress Julia Stiles also helped, when she appeared in a sketch based around her fan-favorite flick, Save the Last Dance.

Here’s a look at the highs and lows of the latest Saturday Night Live.

Save the last cameo

Fans of teen romance films from the early 2000s had a nice surprise during Weekend Update when Chloe Fineman came to talk about her intimate holiday gift idea, which just so happens to be Julia Stiles’ dance from 2001’s Save the Last Dance.

In the film, Stiles plays a teen dancer named Sara who moves from a small Midwestern town to the south side of Chicago after her mother dies in a car crash. There she enters into an interracial relationship with Derek, played by Sean Patrick Thomas, who helps her train for a Juilliard School dance audition.

It’s that audition dance that has lived on for two decades in the minds of many millennials, and the dance that Fineman thinks would make a great gift for a special someone. And to really help sell her idea, Stiles showed up to help perform the dance.

Needless to say, viewers reacting on social media were very pleasantly surprised with the appearance and the dance.

Cold reaction for the cold open

For the cold open sketch, SNL oddly parodied the college presidents who gave testimony last week at a House hearing about anti-Semitism on their campuses. And while the event itself drew its own kind of criticisms last week, the sketch — which the show did not post to its YouTube page — definitely didn’t sit well with viewers, who took to social media with their reactions.

Making the most of the monologue

With a change in gears badly needed after the cold open sketch, Driver took the stage for his monologue, which saw him sit behind a piano and play while rattling off his Christmas list to Santa. It included things like a “giant metal Tesla truck” and to kill the couples on TikTok who prank each other.

He also made a reference to his past role in Star Wars movies when he asked for “people to stop coming up to me on the street saying, ‘You killed Han Solo.’ I didn’t kill Han Solo, wokeness killed Han Solo.”

Other bright spots

Driver also shone in nearly every skit he appeared in after that, prompting Rolling Stone to label him “one of the best SNL hosts ever.”

Some highlights include Driver playing a chocolatier on a home shopping network, a casserole-loving party host who clashes with another casserole-loving party host, an old childhood friend with a complicated past and a baby on an airplane — where the visuals add to the laughs almost as much as Driver does.

Looking ahead

Former cast member Kate McKinnon will close out the year with hosting duties on Dec. 16, while Billie Eilish will serve as the musical guest. It will mark McKinnon’s fourth time hosting.

Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays on NBC and is available for streaming on Peacock.

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