The galpal co-hosts of the Golden Globes had a couple of difficult tasks to accomplish in their opening monologue: striking a balance between awed fandom and barbed irreverence (that is, playing both to the bigwigs in the house at the Beverly Hilton and to the audience at home), and making people forget Ricky Gervais (whose three years hosting this show did not strike that balance, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many in Hollywood). Fortunately, they handled both with easy aplomb; in fact, they knocked them out of the park.
The pair set the tone during their monologue with an artful head-fake, assuring the crowd that they were not going to be as mean as Gervais (who "Is no longer technically in showbiz," Fey deadpanned) because the punishment for nastiness as Globes host is "they make you host the show two more times," Poehler said.
But then Poehler uncorked a wicked line that had the room gasping. Talking about the controversy over whether Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" endorses torture, Poehler said, "When it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron." Even Bigelow seemed to laugh at that one, while everyone else marveled at the hosts who dared take on the King of the World. Not even Gervais had the chutzpah to do that.
Another razor-sharp line: Regarding Anne Hathaway's harrowing performance in "Les Miserables," Fey said, " I have not seen someone so totally alone and abandoned like that since you were onstage with James Franco at the Oscars."
Poehler took a shot at her fellow Bostonian Ben Affleck, as well as their hometown, saying that the "Argo" director chose to make a movie about Iran after two films set in Boston because "he wanted to film somewhere that was friendlier to outsiders."
OK, some of what they said was hacky. Talking about the Hollywood nobility in attendance, Poehler said, "You can smell the pills from here" and noted that the Globes are the rare occasion when "the beautiful people of film rub shoulders with the rat-faced people of television."
Still, she and Fey delivered their lines with such mischievous smiles that it was hard to fault them. The former "Saturday Night Live" news anchor pair delivered a couple of jokes about "The Hunger Games" and "Life of Pi" (both cheap quips revolving around how hard it is to fit into an awards season gown) with expert timing and a wink of awareness of how cliched the jokes were.
Some lines were delightfully absurd. Fey: "Quentin Tarantino is here, the star of all my sexual nightmares." Poehler: "Meryl Streep is not here. She has the flu, and I hear she's amazing in it." They got the serious Daniel Day-Lewis to play along with a bit where they claimed the "Lincoln" star's first Steven Spielberg movie was actually "E.T." "Do the finger!" they exhorted, and he did.
At press time, it wasn't clear whether the "Baby Mama" co-stars would be able to keep up the hilarity through the whole three-hour slog of the Globe ceremony. (A bit where Poehler impersonated an imaginary, buck-toothed TV mini-series nominee fell flat.) Still, they seemed on top of the situation, promising to wrap the show "by 11, 11 dark 30 at the latest."
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