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James Franco follows the making of an SNL episode in 2008. He and his crew observe when John Malkovich hosted for the third time. This doc covers the whole week from writing to rehearsing to the live taping. Quite frankly Franco is self-serving in joking around with Bill Hader and doesn't delve very deep into what truly makes the show. It feels like a student film. It takes you behind the scenes, but does not look to the history of Saturday Night Live.
If you have previously read the book "Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live" you are not going to get anything new out of watching this film. A lot of what is in that book is much more fascinating and insightful than what student filmmaker James Franco has to show us. More than that, this is a very amateur film that shows us the process, but not what makes it fun for the writers and performers on the show. Actually, there's this bittersweet quality to the entire film that stresses how difficult the show is to put together, and what it takes to work at SNL, rather than the zaniness of comedic creativity. More often than not we watch the mechanics of a joke, rather than its execution, and the behind the scenes quality of the film makes it seem very voyeuristic, in a bad way. That and James Franco pandering to the camera, letting himself be interviewed alongside show creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels was a little too self-aggrandizing for my taste. While this may be a treat for those unaware of the mechanics of the show, it probably isn't the roller coaster of fun many are expecting.
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