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SNL casts Kate McKinnon as Jeff Sessions as Forrest Gump. Naturally!

“Life is like a box of chocolates … sure are a lot of brown ones!”

Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon as Jeff Sessions as Forrest Gump.
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

For the first time in seemingly years, Saturday Night Live’s cold open didn’t feature Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump or Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer. It was, instead, an extended tribute to Forrest Gump, starring Kate McKinnon as embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

McKinnon long ago proved she can play essentially anyone in Washington, and her take on Sessions was somehow both a fun riff on the politician and Tom Hanks’s work as Forrest, which is, I suppose, what America was calling out for.

The sketch also contained a bunch of references to the Academy Award-winning film, if that was what you were looking for. McKinnon’s Sessions quoted its most famous line, with a Sessions-specific twist: “Life is like a box of chocolates … sure are a lot of brown ones in there.” Her Sessions even called Donald Trump “Donn-ay,” like Forrest used to call his longtime friend “Jenn-ay.” And so on.

The sketch was built around Forrest Gump’s framing device, and as such, it featured Sessions talking to a handful of folks who came to sit beside him at a bus stop —including Beck Bennett’s Vladimir Putin and host Octavia Spencer playing Minny, her character from The Help. (Yes, she gave Sessions a pie laced with poo, just as Minny did in the film for which Spencer won her Oscar.)

The bus stop setup allowed for an elaborate series of reversal gags. Sessions would tell one bus stop seatmate that he had never talked to the Russians, then immediately turn around and tell the next that, yep, he’d talked to the Russians. But in the end, the sketch was more notable for the way it created the effect of quick-cut editing — via a fake bus rolling in and “taking away” Forrest’s previous seatmate — than for anything else.

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