By Caryn James | James on Screens September 25, 2011 at 2:23AM
Alec Baldwin as Tony Bennett, Movie Critic doesn’t instantly sound funny, but as Baldwin played it out on last night’s Weekend Update it was a little laugh-until-you-cry masterpiece.
The white wig and fake nose were just right, but Baldwin’s delivery of near-nonsensical riffs was what made the sketch hilarious, as Bennett zig-zagged from the movie Contagion to the memory of dating a blind woman with a seeing-eye mynah bird, all delivered in a parody of Sinatra-like zingy patter. (Like Bennett's recent real-life 9/11 comments, never mentioned here, the mock-Bennett's remarks were apology-ready.) Seth Myers added just the right "What am I doing here?" look when Bennett asked him to hold up a package of Poise pads in a quick message from their sponsor
There’s a reason Baldwin shows up so often on Saturday Night Live ( last night was his record-breaking 16th time as host). His funny little touches can redeem even mediocre writing (that would be the game-show sketch). And when he has terrific material to work with, no one is better.
Other highlights included his opening monologue, with guest appearances by Steve Martin, whose hosting record Baldwin broke, and Seth Rogen, whose movie 50/50 opens on Friday (there’s always a reason).
And a look back at auditions for Top Gun included Baldwin as Al Pacino and Bill Hader as Harvey Fierstein, unconvinced to the end that the movie wasn’t a gay love story. Who can argue with that?