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Best and Worst: SNL Movies

Best: The Blues Brothers (1980)

Saturday Night Live movies set the bar extremely high by launching with this cult classic, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the eponymous musical brothers.

The Blues Brothers acted as a template for the formula, if not the quality, of most of SNL 's movie output, as it follows obnoxious (but popular, often loveable) central characters, on a mission that is basically a thinly-veiled excuse for a string of skits.

While it's mostly remembered for its music, The Blues Brothers lays claim to some of the most hilariously crazy car chase scenes ever filmed. The final chase goes all out, as the bros are pursued by police, SWAT teams, various armed forces, the Fire Service, enemy band 'The Good Ole Boys', and the American Socialist White People's Party.

It set the benchmark for SNL movies with its surreal, insane, and wildly funny antics.

Worst: It's Pat (1994)

Arguably the most bizarre movie birthed from the SNL family was this particular curio. Julia Sweeney is Pat, a loser of indistinct gender, who embarks on a difficult relationship with Chris (Dave Foley), a kindred spirit in terms of gender confusion.

The sketch's single joke, that the audience fails to find out Pat's gender, works as part of a brief skit. One joke is not a suitable premise for a feature film (well, there are two jokes if you count the fact that the idea was recycled for Dave Foley's chararacter).

Yes, this could have been an insightful, thought-provoking look at the role and function of gender in contemporary sociey. Or it could have been a disturbing, Cronenbergian body horror.

Instead, its unique point of interest is its see-it-to-believe-it awfulness, worth catching only as some kind of endurance test.

It's Pat currently sits at 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, and falls inside IMDb's bottom 100.

Best: Wayne's World (1992)

Back in the days when Mike Myers was still funny, Wayne's World was his crowning glory, and the biggest box-office hit to emerge from the SNL stable.

Dorky metallers Wayne and Garth broadcast a local TV show from Wayne's basement (well, his parents' basement actually), which is a pretty big hit. Tensions arise between the pair of presenters though, what with Wayne's burgeoning relationship with Tia Carrere's rock chick, and the arrival of Rob Lowe's sleazy exec.

The show stayed true to The Blues Brothers formula, though it took the absurd humour to the next level (the film contains three endings, including a Scooby Doo denouement!).

Wayne's World ensured its longevity with some of the finest cult lingo to enter the pop culture lexicon in the 90s: including "Schwing!" (combined with pelvic thrust), the greeting "Party on, Wayne" (which drew the response: "Party on, Garth"), and, of course, "We're not worthy!"

Worst: Stuart Saves His Family (1995)

This is evidence of what can go wrong with an SNL movie when your character is thoroughly annoying, with none of the necessary charm or likeability that made The Blues Brothers or Wayne's World impossible-to-hate hits.

Stuart Smalley (Al Franken) is a TV self-help guru, whose own upbringing has given him the tools to help other people with their life problems. Stuart is fired from his cable show in Chicago, and has to deal with crises of his own as he heads back home to Minneapolis for his aunt's funeral.

The problem, as with many SNL movies, is that this comedy creation can't carry a 95 minute movie. One of the most indefensibly irritating characters to make the conversion to the big screen, Stuart is all nasal speech, knitted tank tops and dodgy self-help maxims.

Some choice quotes guaranteed to nauseate include "It's easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world" and "As we say in program: progress, not perfection".

Hard to believe that director Harold Ramis helmed Groundhog Day a couple of years earlier.

Best: Wayne's World 2 (1993)

Wayne's World 2 struck while the iron was hot, and was released one year after the original. It is pretty much a re-run of the first one, but gets by on its protagonists' goofy appeal, combined with the numerous cameos. And it also helps that the 'Waynestock' music festival gives the jokes something substantial to cling to.

While not quite equalling its predecessor, in terms of quality or box office kerching, it remains an enjoyable SNL adventure anyway. Despite Mike Myers' post- Austin Powers comedy wilderness, he and Dana Carvey showed they could still draw the laughs at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards .

Perhaps we'll still see Wayne's World 3 yet...

Worst: Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)

Wayne's World 2 proved that an SNL sequel could work, but Blues Brothers 2000 left it a little too late. Arriving almost twenty years after the original, and lacking one half of the famous twosome, this just didn't cut it.

Aping the plot of the first movie, BB 2000 sees Elwood Blues (a returning Dan Aykroyd) leaving prison, and being inspired to play another epic show as part of a divine mission. The dearly departed John Belushi is replaced as lead singer by John Goodman's Mighty Mack, and Joe Morton and an irritating kid (J. Evan Bonifant) also join the line-up.

You can't deny the ambition here: the tunes are still toe-tappingly contagious, and the calibre of music stars involved rivals the first film. But it feels like an unnecessary rehash, too late in the day for anyone to really care.

Despite the fact Aykroyd and John Landis were involved, this feels like a distant relation to its superior predecessor.

Best: Bob Roberts (1992)

Tim Shawshank Robbins has nailed so many dramatic roles that it's easy to forget that he's also a dab hand at comedy. The multiply-gifted Robbins wrote and directed this mockumentary, in which he also took the title role.

Bob Roberts is a folk-singing "conservative rebel" running for senate, and the movie follows his campaign trail as he goes up against his rival, Democrat Brickley Paste.

This is Spinal Tap is apparently one of Robbins' favourites, and he credits its influence by homaging the scene where the band struggle to find the stage through a maze of corridors. There are also Bob Dylan nods aplenty.

Based on a one-off sketch from Saturday Night Live , Robbins gives the laughs a keener target than much of the show's cinema output. Sure, there are cameos galore (including a scarily young Jack Black), and some of the political satire is a little broad, but this one has a consistent tone that separates it from lesser SNL efforts.

Worst: A Night at the Roxbury (1998)

An early lead role for Will Ferrell, this was sadly not indicative of some of the genius to come in his career.

Ferrell and Chris Kattan are Steve and Doug Butabi, brothers who dream of getting into the Roxbury, the hippest club in town. The dweeby duo work at their father's fake plant store during the day, and spend their evenings getting turned away from cool nightspots and failing to pick up women.

They manage to pitch their idea for a nightclub (the outside is styled like the inside of a club, while the inside is road-themed) to Roxbury owner Benny Zadir. Then the pair have to overcome Zadir's bodyguard, and their parents' arranged marriage plans, to fulfill their dream of opening the club.

Not the worst out of the SNL bunch, but hardly vintage stuff. The pair aren't quite substantial enough to carry a movie.

A Night at the Roxbury does score bonus points, however, for inspired use of Haddaway's 'What is Love' .

Best: Office Space (1999)

Office Space isn't considered an official part of the SNL canon, strictly speaking, though it is the spawn of an animated skit that appeared on the show.

Mike Judge's Milton shorts appeared on Saturday Night Live throughout the 90s, and Milton took a (memorable) supporting role in Office Space .

The film's main character is Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) who finds that his career prospects increase dramatically after he decides to apply less effort to working, and more to loafing around and romancing Jennifer Aniston.

In an amusing subplot, Peter's unappreciated colleague Milton (Stephen Root) sees his working conditions get steadily worse until he's demoted to the basement.

This film plays pretty much like a real-life Dilbert. It set the formula that Mike Judge's movies would often imitate: poor box office business, but with a strong cult following on DVD.

Worst: Superstar (1999)

SNL 's equivalent of High School Musical . Mary Katherine Gallagher is the aspiring superstar, hoping to escape her dorky outcast status and get a kiss from Will Ferrell's awesomely-named Sky Corrigan.

She spends the movie with her equally-pathetic Special Education pals training for the school talent contest, with her rival being cheerleader Eviane Carrie Graham.

Again, another skit is spread too thinly, and Shannon's superstar is simply too infuriating to ever really gain our sympathy.

Best: Coneheads (1993)

A rare family-friendly SNL movie. Coneheads starred the comedy contingent's favourite son, Dan Aykroyd, as a 'parental unit' Beldar, the patriarch of a family of aliens who are stranded on Earth, trying to fit in with society.

Based on a bunch of SNL skits from the 70s, Coneheads comedic range is slightly limited, as it mainly revolves around the conically-bonced ETs' attempts to blend in with suburban America, and the fact that they do so pretty much unnoticed.

Much of the humour also comes from their oddly-shaped heads, and the way that they rub them together as a sign of affection. Fellow SNL alumni Chris Farley and Adam Sandler appear alongside Aykroyd.

Maybe not a comedy classic, but charmingly amusing stuff nonetheless.

Worst: The Ladies Man (2000)

After such a dismal run from It's Pat onwards (with only SNL relative Office Space providing any credibility), it's no surprise that The Ladies Man derailed the SNL movie machine for 10 years.

The cinema hiatus was something of a relief after this one, which contains all the bad things about SNL movies (grating protoganist, over-stretched plot, kitchen sink gag mentality), with none of the occasional virtues. Such as laughs.

Leon Phelps is a radio host and, inexplicably, a hit with the fairer sex (including Saved by the Bell 's Tiffani Thiessen).

While some of his dubious advice was amusing in sketch form, he becomes damn near unbearable as a feature length companion.

Best: MacGruber (2010)

MacGruber hits cinemas this Friday. It's the first SNL movie in a decade, and expectations are pretty high on this one, not least because this idea actually seems pretty perfect for a big-screen comedy.

The MacGyver -mocking action hero is joined by Kristen Wiig, currently one of SNL 's brightest stars, and straight man Ryan Phillippe on a mission to bring down Val Kilmer's Dieter Von Cunth. If that name didn't elicit a giggle, you're probably best off giving this one a miss.

For everyone else, this is the best action comedy since Team America joined the war on terror. MacGruber has got the Total Film seal of approval, read the review here .