Though the answer seems to be looking you dead in the face, James Franco is out to prove that no matter the talent or skill, ‘SNL’ is a work of genius. In his new documentary, Saturday Night, Franco takes cameras where they have never been before: tracking the progress of a single episode from initial meeting on Monday morning to live airing at 11:30 PM Saturday night. It is a hilarious ride through heaven and hell; one that makes you wonder when the cast ever finds time to sleep.
Let it be known that I am not a huge ‘SNL’ fan. So, in a way, I am not the target market for James Franco’s debut into the world of documentary filmmaking. However, with that said, I can say that I still found Saturday Night to be both enjoyable and informative.
Seeing the cast dedicate all their time and effort into a series of skits, most of which will never see the light of day, is not only impressive, but also admirable. The table readings, the producer meetings, and the awkward requests for co-writers give the show a high school type feel, creating yet another layer of humor to the already stacked show.
To a big fan of the show, my B+ rating will likely feel a bit low—with good reason. The documentary is well made, entertaining and relies heavily on the humor associated with a guest star like John Malkovich. I don’t think we would have seen the same documentary if it had been taped one week later when Hugh Laurey was serving as guest host—but that we will unfortunately never know.
As it stands right now, Saturday Night is an intriguing look into the world of one of pop culture’s most mystifying success stories. For me, it is a great one-time watch. For others, I can see it being a Saturday night ritual.