Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence stumbles on ‘SNL’

Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer LawrenceJason Sudeikis and Jennifer Lawrence (Photo: NBC)

Did the “SNL” writers leave the Golden Globes winner and Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence hanging in the wind last night during her monologue? It was no Oscar-worthy performance. Stand-up takes another skill set and J. Law came across as a little stilted and high-school speechy, but also genuine and game.

The heart of Lawrence’s monologue was her take-down of her four fellow Best Actress Oscar nominees, one-by-one. Of her chief rival Jessica Chastain, Lawrence said, “Jessica Chastain – more like Jessica Chast-aint winning no Oscar on my watch. In ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ you caught Bin Laden. So what? In ‘Winter’s Bone’ I caught a squirrel – and then I ate it. Boom. Deal with that!” She went on to trash talk Naomi “What’s her problem” Watts, Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis.

Watch Jennifer Lawrence's "Saturday Night Live" monologue:
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It was tricky territory for an Oscar contender and the jokes needed to be sharper. There were occasional chuckles but no LOL moments. The ‘SNL’ writers really let Lawrence down with the soft-target jibes at notoriously grouchy Tommy Lee Jones. Placing Bill Hader in the studio audience to repeat, and repeat, the “Lincoln” star’s awards-night sour puss was a throwaway. And that joke about eating baby corn like corn-on-the-cob: really? That was old in Lincoln’s day.

One can only hope that most Academy members were already tucked into their Tempurpedics before the show aired.

The takeaway over at The Hollywood Reporter was that while Lawrence was “serving” her rivals, the writers served her up to scrutiny. Blame it on the paid comic professionals agreed a commenter named Sarah, “Jennifer is hilarious...she's hilarious in real life and hilarious in silver linings...the writing was just HORRIBLE. she had nothing to work with.” Len Feldman agreed: “In a year where SNL's writing has been as bad as I can remember (and I remember all the way back to Season 1,) this was perhaps the worst-written episode of the season. Jennifer Lawrence did the best she could with truly awful material.”

Still, some viewers found fault with J. Law herself. Over at Deadline.com, one critic wrote: “Tacky. Gone from finding her “uncensored” and “fresh” to “disrespectful” and “entitled.” Commenter Peggy Lane O’Rourke seconded that emotion: “I don’t think it played well AT ALL ! It came across as really arrogant. Guess Harvey might have to do a little damage control here.”

Will hosting “SNL” hurt Lawrence’s Oscar chances? It certainly didn’t help. But maybe that doesn’t matter all that much to the 22-year-old star of a half-billion dollar franchise with an enormous and faithful fan-base that chuckled at all her jokes (if their parents allowed them to stay up that late).

If Lawrence can challenge The Capitol as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games,” and out-charm Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook,” she can certainly take on the Academy in a semi-humorous monologue. Her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” speaks for itself -- and her main rival remains Chastain.