While it feels like there have been a lot more, there have only been 11 movies based on Saturday Night Live characters to date. That’s perhaps due to the fact that there have been a lot of films that were produced by people associated with SNL (Namely Lorne Michaels) and starring SNL talent, most of the time while they were still on the show (Tommy Boy comes to mind). However, for this list we’re going to focus solely on the 11 films that have been released that were based on skits from the show itself and while those films have a pretty iffy at best reputation, there are actually a few classics in there (including one film that is arguably the best comedy of all-time – and it may not be the film you’re thinking). So let’s take a look back at… Mostly the 90’s, and check out the Top 11 Movies based on Characters from SNL Sketches!
11. Blues Brothers 2000
Now, most lists would have Blue Brothers at the top of not only this list, but on top of (or at least near the top of) the list for the best comedies of all-time. Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but a movie about a couple of white guys who sing the blues, fleeing the police while on a “mission from God” just doesn’t seem that funny once you’ve seen, you know, any other comedy out there. So, while Blues Brothers is still near the top of this list (because there’s not a lot of meat on the bone here and because it’s cultural impact still gets it a lot of points), the perfect example of what not to do in a sequel to that film has to be the worst movie on this list. It’s typically a good rule of thumb to not make an unplanned sequel to a classic film, especially a comedy, as most of those films end up being lazy retreads of the original film. Beyond that, you definitely don’t want to make a sequel to a classic film that’s based on two characters when one of those two characters is dead (or in “prison” as was the case in Blues Brothers 2000), and lastly you definitely don’t want to replace that character with a wise-cracking 10-year-old orphan… A mission from god my left foot.
10. Stuart Saves His Family
This film was considering awful even before Minnesota Senator Al Franken had to resign in shame earlier this year after his ass-grabbery was made public as part of the #MeToo movement. Regardless of where you stand on his politics, it’s a pretty safe assumption that you were never a very big fan of this film or really the sketch behind it. Al Franken is a comedy legend, that much is true, but even if you were a fan of SNL back when the Stuart Smalley sketch was a thing, you weren’t turning out to the theaters for this film. This film actually makes you question why the “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like you” catch-phrase was even a catch-phrase, because it was essentially the same thing everytime, even when Michael Jordan was brought in to say it. This film had a lot going for it, though, as the skit was hyper popular and it was directed by Harold Ramis the man behind Caddyshack, Vacation, Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters, but despite that it was perhaps the biggest bomb on this list, bringing in just over nine-hundred thousand dollars at the box-office. I guess he wasn’t good enough, or smart enough, and people definitely didn’t like him.
9. The Ladies Man
The problem with converting a five-to-six minute skit into a feature lengthed film is pretty evident. Some people (like Mike Myers) can revel in the new freedom alloted by the format while others seem overwhelmed by it and that was the case with The Ladies Man, a skit that seemed made for the big screen. Like other entries on this list, The Ladies Man skit was based on a public access show (Stuart Smalley had a public access show, as did Wayne and Garth of Wayne’s World), one where a man straight out of the 70’s essentially gave romantic advice to people who called into his show. The movie changed it from a television show to a radio show, perhaps to differentiate The Ladies Man from the previous two films, and that change really hurt it as the aesthetic from the television show and the man-out-of-time narrative could’ve really helped this film. Tim Meadows was one of the longest tenured Saturday Night Live cast members when he left the show and so it was hard not to root for him when he finally got a popular character on the show, but the late 90’s/early 00’s were a rough time for SNL films (and probably why we haven’t had many since) and The Ladies Man shows you why…
8. A Night at the Roxbury
… Or The Ladies Man and A Night at the Roxbury show you why!
While discussing Blues Brothers 2000 above, it was stated that it’s never a great idea to follow-up a classic comedy (or film) under the circumstances in which that film was made, and in that same vein, you probably should never make a nearly two hour film based on a skit in which the two main characters never speak a single word. Considering this film (and his role in the flop that was Superstar), it’s actually surprising that Will Ferrell’s career didn’t end up going the same route as his on-screen partner, Chris Kattan’s, but even in the disaster that was A Night at the Roxbury you can see his charm and comedic ability and that’s why this film is a lot higher on this list than it is on others. That’s where the generational concept comes in, as this film is terrible, there’s no denying it. However, Ferrell is still good and he has a few quotable moments in this film that means that if you were the right age when this came out that you have a fond spot in your heart for the film that definitely should’ve never been made. If there’s any silver lining here though, it’s that you can blame this film (and that Corky Romano movie) for the demise of Chris Kattan, who apparently was a grade A jerk to everyone even before he was super famous, so, there’s that.
7. Waynes World 2
The first film on this list is Blues Brothers 2000 and in the write-up it is said that you should never wait nearly two-decades to come out with a sequel for a classic film (unless it was a planned sequel that takes place 20 years later, like perhaps a Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, or something). Well, Waynes World 2 came out pretty quickly after Waynes World and it still was pretty terrible, so I guess it doesn’t really matter how much time there is between a film and it’s sequel if the film is just terrible. The problem with Waynes World 2 is that it feels so different from the first film, and there’s actually a reason why it feels that way. Mike Myers had written an original script for Waynes World 2 that was a lot like the first film (which had surreal elements and Wayne breaking the fourth wall regularly to talk to the cameraman or audience), but a lot of the plot (in which Wayne and Garth discover an ancient scroll and secede from the United States) was taken from a 1949 British comedy Passport to Pimlico and for whatever reason Myers forgot to mention that to the Studio, so right before they were set to film Myers had to whip up a brand new story and script, a story about Wayne being visited from Jim Morrison and having to create a musical festival. In place of the jokes were celebrity cameo after celebrity cameo, which made it feel more like a made for TV movie than an actual sequel to the amazing first Waynes World.
6. It’s Pat
It’s Pat is the perfect movie to be right in the middle of this list as it’s a film that you either love or hate, depending on factors that many people are still trying to figure out. Based on the androgynous character from the skit where co-workers of Pat are always trying to figure out if he’s a man or a woman, It’s Pat takes that concept to a much higher level where Pat’s neighbor becomes obsessed with Pat’s gender and goes to incredible lengths to figure out the truth. It was said above that perhaps Stuart Saves his Family was the biggest bomb of all the SNL films, but if you were to compare it to It’s Pat, it looks like Titanic. It’s Pat cost over eight-million-dollars to make and brought in just over $60,000. That’s nearly impossible for a film that had received a major distribution deal and was backed by the power that was Saturday Night Live. It also nearly killed the career of Julia Sweeney, who also found out the same weekend that the film was released that her brother was really sick, but she turned all that sadness into a one-woman-show that gave her career a second shot in the arm. It was also announced by him, years later, that Quentin Tarantino did uncredited work on the script, which explains that scene where Pat drops the F-bomb about 50 times and murders an entire diner full of guests before opening a briefcase full of a golden light.
Superstar was based on the character Mary Katherine Gallagher, who was created and performed by SNL’er Molly Shannon and became a huge highlight of the weekly show back around the turn of the century/millenium. Also starring Will Ferrell and Tom Green, the film did turn a profit (grossing over thirty-million-dollars on it’s sixteen-million-dollar budget) and showed the world that Will Ferrell, especially, was a star in the making. His character, Sky Corrigan, was the popular kid at the Catholic School where Shannon’s Katherine Gallagher attended. A lot of the time, obviously, films based on gross-out characters don’t end up working as something that works in a two-to-six minute sketch and in front of a live audience doesn’t work over the course of two hours and without the reaction of the crowd to sort of dictate how the home/theater audience should react. So, while the armpit sniffing Catherine Gallagher is a gross character, there’s a lot more to her than that, even in the skits on television (in which she recites long soliliquoy’s from made for television movies) and the film allowed her to expand upon those touched on aspects in the skits, and she/the film thrives because of it. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Shannon and Ferrell were working together again earlier this year in an Amazon Prime television show that covered the Rose Parade as two characters from a fictional Southern California television station. They had a lot of chemistry on screen in 1999 and it’s great to see that it still exists in 2018.
Typically, films based on popular SNL skits are released as quickly as possible to take advantage of that fact. However, Coneheads ended up somehow waiting nearly two decades before releasing a feature film, as the first skit they appeared in happened in 1977 and the film was released in 1993. That time difference really didn’t matter and really almost worked in the favor of the film as the characters were iconic by the time the film was released, something that hasn’t really happened for a lot of flash in the pan skits or characters that the show have had over it’s forty-plus-year existence. The skits discussed some of the background of the characters (what planet they came from, mostly) and a lot of these films can’t handle the added screen-time, however, Coneheads seems to thrive with the added time (and budget) that comes from a feature film as the main-characters who came to earth to investigate it return back to their home planet despite the fact that they’ve been on earth for too long and no longer relate to the people and customs of their home planet. It’s a great take on a classic skit and it just works on every level, including the role of the daughter cone’s boyfriend, which was Chris Farley’s first film credit. Even in the limited role he showes that he’s a star that left us far too soon and he’s one of the few reasons why this film is one of the best SNL-based films ever.
3. Blues Brothers
This may be blasphemy, but realistically, all of these lists are subjective so it’s not that crazy for a Millennial based list/website to not understand a film from 1980 that’s based on a skit/musical act from that time period. It always felt like these “skits” were an excuse for the original Blues Brothers John Belushi and Dan Akroyd to sing and perform songs that they loved and there was really no humor inherent to the “skits” on the show, which were basically just musical numbers that seemed to go one far too long. The film fleshed out the story behind the Blues Brothers, two brothers who were on the run from the law and on a mission from god to hopefully keep the orphanage that they grew up in open by throwing a concert to raise the money needed to save it. While the film is considered one of (if not the) best comedy film of all-time, it doesn’t really seem that funny (at least compared when compared to the top two films on this list), however the car chase scene between the police and the Bluesmobile is one of the most iconic in Hollywood history and the film itself is really well done, so that, combined with it’s lasting legacy in Hollywood, gets it a top spot on this list even if the jokes don’t hold up that well to a generation that wasn’t around when the film/skits were first released.
The most recent SNL film to be released, MacGruber is a definite cult classic that was sadly not appreciated while it was in theaters despite the fact that it’s hilarious. Despite how similar each skit is (with MacGruber essentially being a play on TV’s MacGyver, who was known to basically create solutions to problems with household items), the film itself removed itself from the repetition that the skits brought and created a hilarious universe that parodied cheesy action movies from the 80’s and 90’s. Beyond that, this is definitely the most raunchy SNL-related film, with a ton of jokes that definitely couldn’t fly on broadcast television. Like many of the SNL-related films, though, this movie struggled to make back it’s budget at the box office, grossing just over nine-million-dollars on a ten-million-dollar budget. Beyond that, the film had some legal troubles as the creator of the MacGyver television show sent multiple cease-and-desist letters to the creators of the film, apparently not realizing that parody is allowed when it comes to intellectual property rights. That’s perhaps why no lawsuit was taken, but it was perhaps that hassle and the lack of people showing up to buy tickets that has made MacGruber the last SNL-related film. It’s either that or the overt political nature of the show since Donald Trump announced his candidacy (meaning that there’s less actual characters being created, let alone reoccurring skits), either way, hopefully SNL will get back to doing what it does best at some point, creating original characters and then running them into the ground.
1. Wayne’s World
Wayne’s World may not only be the top SNL-related film of all-time, but perhaps the best comedy film in the histroy of Hollywood. Don’t believe me? Rewatch it and tell me that that film isn’t classic line after classic line. While Mike Myers is a lot more well known for his Austin Powers films, you can definitely see a lot of those films in Wanye’s World, as it’s essentially a satire of film and television tropes as a whole and it’s actually better done than the Austin Powers films as well. It’s really, actually, the film that Deadpool wanted to be as it shows Wayne breaking the fourth-wall and talking directly either to the audience or the camera man on multiple occasions. Beyond that, the film has multiple endings that are perfect for that generation (the Scooby Doo ending before Scooby Doo jokes became tired and cliche, for example) and is a quote factory that is responsible for the first example of “That’s what she said”, for example. It’s just a hilarious movie with a great plot and is also the perfect example of what can happen when a brilliant mind is given free reign to expand on their ideas. That alone makes it sad that Mike Myers has been mostly absent from the Hollywood scene since the failure that was The Love Guru, hopefully he’ll see this article and decide to return to doing what he does best, making us laugh while making millions and millions of dollars. Wayne’s World is a perfect example of that as the top grossing SNL film of all-time, and while the sequel was disappointing that wasn’t really Myers’ fault as he had to whip that script together at the last minute, so, come back Mike! We miss you!