The majority of SNL spin-off movies have been hit-or-miss in the wake of the release of Wayne's World. Heck, Wayne's World 2 wasn't that great, and certainly others in the SNL movie cannon like Superstar, MacGruber, and The Ladies Man left a lot to be desired by the audiences who may have actually ventured out to see any of those when they were released into theaters. The SNL movies thread that fine line which begs the question: do these characters, crafted for a 3-5 minute sketch translate well-enough to the big screen? We suggest that yes, they do, but in most cases specifically when it comes to the titles mentioned above--these suffered, not from poor characterizations, but from poor story-lines in the end. Which is why we've decided to list our favorite Saturday Night Live Spin-Off movies because what these represent are the best of the best, the creme of the attempts to translate characters from the 5-minute late-night sketch onto the big screen for the duration of 90 minutes.
Here are our favorite SNL spin-off movies (in no particular order):
Wayne's World (1992)
The experiment that made so much money in the end that Hollywood Studios couldn't deny the power of the Saturday Night Live-machines desire to break onto the big screen. Made for , what today, seems like little money, $20 Million, Wayne's World grossed almost $200 Million dollars at the box office. Released in 1992, and directed by Penelope Spheeris, the film was a culturally phenomenon, not just raising the stars of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, but also could be considered the catalyst for the SNL resurgence that happened in the early 90s, and also to blame for generations of new audiences discovering the music of the British rock group Queen, who's classic early 70s tune "Bohemian Rhapsody" was featured in the most iconic scene from the movie.
Night At The Roxbury (1998)
Perhaps, it's easy to see why Night At The Roxbury was a decent movie-maker when it was released in theaters in 1998. Budgeted at 17 Million, in the end, it grossed double its money almost. While some may not have found the premise for the movie funny, the characters, Steve and Doug Butabi (played by perfect matches Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan) had an on-screen chemistry that was unforgettable, and today you can not hear Hadaway's "What Is Love" without instantly recalling the head-bumping of the Butabi brothers in their car out on the town looking for a good time.
It's Pat (1994)
A character that was a hit of SNL in the early/mid-1990s, Pat, an ambiguously-gendered person (played with genius by Julia Sweeney)--we don't know if Pat is a man or a woman--is in the heat of an existential crisis when the character meets Chris, another ambiguously-gendered person played by former Kids In The Hall genius Dave Foley. Perhaps, Pat was too far ahead of its time considering where America was in 1994; we were in the heat of the AIDS Crisis, Gay Rights had not to be discussed in any shape or form, and there was certainly no gay marriage fights in the news. In 1994, we were all in the closet about everything, and perhaps It's Pat was ahead of the mark when it came to this notion. Certainly, It's Pat also has a sparkle of fame on the cult side as writer/director Quentin Tarantino, although, un-credited had a hand in writing a draft of the screenplay for the film. Sweeney, a veteran of SNL by 1994, had a cameo role in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction--in the role of Winston Wolf's girlfriend.
Based on a famous series of sketches done in the early years of Saturday Night Live, comedic genius Dan Aykroyd brought a feature-length version of the characters to the big screen in the middle of the early 90s Saturday Night Live resurgence. And the results are very funny. The Coneheads, aliens from Remulak (they claim to come from France in the movie), integrate themselves into American culture over many years and in the process suspicion rises around them and they must take some urgent steps to save themselves before they are captured by the US Government. The Coneheads features an all-star cast of not just SNL alumni but also actors on the fringe of that set as well. An early 90s classic.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
While not based directly on any sketch that ever aired on Saturday Night Live itself, The Blues Brothers--the characters--were played by early SNL performers John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. The characters, two orphaned blues musician/criminals used to perform on Saturday Night Live in the mid/late 70s as the musical guests. An epic movie, to say the least, The Blues Brothers find Jake and Elwood Blues out to raise some cash to save their former orphanage from being shut down. They go to criminal lengths to raise the money, and in the end, the latter part of the movie itself, some 25 minutes, is spent in a multiple-state car chase sequence that finds the guys going from Wisconsin into downtown Chicago. They don't make movies like The Blues Brothers anymore. The scale of the production, at least how it appears on the big screen, is epic. Features an all-star cast and also a fun little cameo at the end by director Steven Spielberg, who plays the Cook County Clerk.
Check out our selection of officially-licensed Saturday Night Live merchandise, here.