Forty-five years after premiering, “Saturday Night Live” is still just about as popular as ever because it lampoons current culture in a way that no one else can. Given that it’s one of the biggest entertainment properties in the world, it’s downright shocking that Lorne Michaels hasn’t milked its golden teet for box office dollars since the 2010 embarrassment “MacGruber” (a sequel thankfully seems to have stalled). It’s also strange to consider that a spin-off hasn’t scored an actual big screen laugh since “The Ladies Man” in the year 2000 (a laugh from me, at least; it didn’t fair as well at the box office). Before that, the Live From New York industrial laugh complex churned out five flops in a row. It begs the question, why don’t “SNL” characters translate to theaters?
Although some sketches do achieve eternal comedic glory, more often than not, age does not shine kindly on the “SNL” style of right-now comedy tropes. The show trades in ephemeral humor, revisiting specific characters is usually cringeworthy (we’re looking at you, Pat). But revisiting the last actually decent “SNL” movie, which I contend is actually its funniest (don’t @ me “Blues Brothers” fans), offers a Courvoisier-sipping clue as to why these films work, and why they very much don’t.