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Actress Anna Kendrick, wearing a black J Mendel gown, poses on the red carpet as she arrives at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014 (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
Actress Anna Kendrick, wearing a black J Mendel gown, poses on the red carpet as she arrives at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014 (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

Why Anna Kendrick is getting rave reviews for her Saturday Night Live hosting gig Add to ...

Nobody can ever say Anna Kendrick isn’t bold in her career choices.

Heretofore known primarily for her lead role in the 2012 film Pitch Perfect, the spirited actress-singer is drawing rave reviews for hosting Saturday Night Live on the weekend.

The 28-year-old Kendrick is an acting veteran who earned a Tony nomination at age 12 for the Broadway play High Society. Kendrick also garnered an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress for the 2009 film Up in the Air.

And on Saturday’s SNL, she sang and danced and joked with the experience of a performer beyond her years, but most people are talking about two sketches skewering two venerable Disney properties – even though Kendrick has already signed up to play Cinderella in the upcoming Disney musical feature Into the Woods.

In today’s Hollywood, that’s pretty cocky.

The Disney-skewering began with Kendrick’s opening monologue, in which she referenced the 1991 film and subsequent stage musical Beauty and the Beast.

“I got my start in musical theatre,” Kendrick told the audience. “When I was 10, my dad took me to see Beauty and the Beast on Broadway and I just knew I wanted to be up there, so to be here on this New York stage is so incredibly exciting. It just feels like something out of a story book…”

At which point Kendrick began singing the song Bonjour from Beauty and the Beast, albeit with updated lyrics making reference to her first-time hosting. The segment included Kendrick interacting with the show’s current cast and even a fleeting glimpse of SNL major domo Lorne Michaels.

In a later sketch, Kendrick played a contemporary version of The Little Mermaid’s Ariel, who is willing to give up her lilting singing voice to the evil sea witch Ursula (Aidy Bryant in an amazing costume) in exchange for a pair of legs.

Except in this instance, Ariel’s vocal abilities had been adapted for a more contemporary audience, which meant that she sang in the staccato hip-hop manner of Kesha and the breathy style of Britney Spears.

In another non-Disney-themed skit, Kendrick teamed with cast member Vanessa Bayer to portray fraternal twins auditioning for the role of backup singer to musical Pharrell – wearing his great big hat, of course. Naturally, Kendrick was by far the more vocally talented of the pair.

And in the highlight of the night, Kendrick also appeared in a bawdy pretaped music-video parody titled Dongs of the World. Kendrick took centre stage and even raps in the song about five lusty women flying all over the world in search of, well, sex.

Sings Kendrick: “When you’re travellin’ the world with your girls in tow/Keep a tight schedule and you can’t go wrong/You’ll see none of the country but all of the dongs.”

Which might be as far removed from the Disney universe as you can get.

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