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WATCH: Highlights from Paul Rudd vs. One Direction SNL Showdown; Wiig Steals Show (VIDEO)

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood December 8, 2013 at 2:17PM

Paul Rudd hosted Saturday Night Live this week for the third time, doing battle with musical guest One Direction, posing for Michelangelo, and playing a mid-life crisis Santa.
Paul Rudd SNL 1

As Paul Rudd hosted his third Saturday Night Live this week, he picked up on a pattern: the musical guest always overshadows him. Perhaps that's because he's not a great host.

First came Beyonce, then Paul McCartney, and now poppy juggernaut One Direction. Rudd's opening monologue featured a showdown between this boy band and his "man band"--the "Anchorman" crew of Will Ferrell, David Koechner, and Steve Carrell. The nine of them sang --what else?-- "Afternoon Delight." The One Direction mania was slightly reworked in one of Rudd's best performances of the night as One Direction's #1 fan.

Paul Rudd SNL 4

SNL opened this week with a "condensed" version of the "Sound of Music." The sketch was preceded by a smug promo of an introduction, noting the 18 million viewers who watched NBC's live production this week. Despite the self-congratulatory start, the skit was excellent. Kristen Wiig showed up to reprise her role as the strange girl from a Lawrence Welk sister act, but this time, she was cast as a freaky Von Trapp child. It was a perfectly weird delight. 

Paul Rudd SNL 3

One of the evening's best sketches was another character reprise: Taran Killam's bitchy 19th century critic slammed beloved Christmas classics, from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to "It's a Wonderful Life."

Two other holiday-oriented bits featured Rudd in mid-life crisis mode as a slimmed down Santa ("one of the leanest meats is reindeer") and "White Christmas," which was pegged as "a Christmas movie for white people," following recent releases like "Best Man Holiday" and "Black Nativity." The sketch came across a bit awkwardly, especially given the fair accusations regarding SNL's diversity problem. Perhaps, the best way out is through, but concentrating on actually bringing in more diverse talent seems like a better task than joking about it. 

Watch these sketches and more below:

This article is related to: SNL, Paul Rudd, Kristen Wiig, Television, Television, TV, TV Reviews, TV Videos, TV News

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.