Feature

Robert De Niro on 'SNL': Was he any good?

The legendarily intense actor tried his hand at comedy on "Saturday Night Live"... again. Was he funny, or merely "serviceable"?

Robert De Niro hosted "Saturday Night Live" for the third time in his career, to promote his new film Little Fockers, the latest addition to the Meet the Parents franchise. How did De Niro, best known for deliberately unamusing films such as Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, perform in a live-comedy situation — and occasionally in drag? (Watch the video, below, to see De Niro in unusually shapely form)

De Niro didn't flop, exactly: "It would be going a little far to say that the third time was a charm" for De Niro on "SNL," says Mike Ryan in Movieline. But he was, "let's say, serviceable," or even "surprisingly... OK." He'll never be "one of the great hosts," but it's kind of "endearing" that he keeps on trying. And while there were some good sketches, De Niro's drag turn only made a bad Andy Samberg rap sketch "much worse.""Was the third time a charm for host Robert De Niro?"

De Niro killed: Whatever the show's weak parts, "De Niro was awesome," says Michelle Lamar in Babble. Watching him in drag, bumping and grinding with Sean "Diddy" Combs "was a total riot." Sure, he's a dramatic actor, but as he shows in the Meet the Parents movies, "the man has a gift for comedy!""De Niro kills it on 'Saturday Night Live'"

What's his motivation? De Niro "fared best" in "a costume and make-up," says Ken Tucker in Entertainment Weekly. But despite the bright spots, like his "quick, funny turn" as Afghan President Hamid Karzai," you have to wonder what De Niro "wants to accomplish" by appearing on the show: "There's a cultural disconnect between De Niro and 'SNL.'" Maybe he just wants "a bit of fun without leaving Manhattan"?"De Niro, better in drag these days"

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