Dead Poets Society is a Robin Williams movie from 1989 about an English teacher at a private school who uses unorthodox teaching methods to reach his students who are over pressured by their parents and the school. In the most memorable moment in the film, Robin Williams is fired and all the students he touched get up on their desks and say “O captain, my captain.” It’s a super tear jerking moment in a film filled with tear-jerking moments.
So, of course, Saturday Night Live did a parody of the famous scene. And it’s one of the best sketches they’ve done in a long time. Check it out:
The sketch is almost a shot for shot re-enactment of the scene from the movie, all the way down to the actor’s costumes. There’s nothing funny about it, but you just know that something crazy is going to happen. Sure, there are small jokes peppered throughout to keep you invested, but nothing too substantial. (Though, I was a fan of Beck Bennett reading the “poems stink” line). You’re left waiting for the other shoe to drop and when it does the moment doesn't disappoint.
When Pete Davidson gets up on the desk and the ceiling fan chops off his head, the sketch completely transforms. It basically becomes a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie; Blood goes everywhere. Then his head gets thrown around and even more people get blood squirted all over their faces. I love when Beck Bennett got a face full when the body landed on top of him. Then the head got thrown out the window, chopped up by a lawnmower, and everything was made even worse.
For those wondering, the scene in Dead Poets Society does not play out that way at all. It’s actually a real bummer, but that’s the point. Here’s the actual scene so you can compare it to the SNL version. I think they did a great job capturing the tone of that scene, and it’s almost a 100% recreation.
Of course, the scene had to end with Mr. Bunting (played by Fred Armisen, who hosted the show last night) making sure everyone had his email. Grand gestures really aren’t necessary when you can just email how you feel. Fred Armisen hosted the season finale, so Saturday Night Live won’t be back until the fall. Good thing they left us with this awesome sketch to keep us satisfied.