The ‘SNL’ Exodus: Should Jason Sudeikis Follow Kristen, Andy and Abby Out the Door? (ANALYSIS)

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There’s a heavy talent drain this summer at Saturday Night Live, with Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and now, Abby Elliott announcing their departures before the show’s 38th season starts this fall. But Jason Sudeikis remains a question mark.

There have been rumblings all summer that the nine-year SNL mainstay may join the mass exodus, opting to concentrate fully on his now-part-time film career. However, in a recent Los Angeles Times interview, he said he might still stick around with the sketch troupe at 30 Rock, provided he gets a promotion (say, a writing or producing title). But should he stay? Maybe it really is time for him to leave?

Should Sudeikis stay or should he go? A TV expert weighs in, below.

Granted, SNL might be seen as a cushy gig. You only work 20 weeks a year, and since you’re part of an ensemble, no one expects too much of you. And if you’re Sudeikis, you’ll get to keep opening the show with your Mitt Romney impersonation, at least for a few more months — and maybe for four to eight more years. Plus, it’s risky to leave. For every Wiig or Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler who successfully makes the transition to the big screen, there are several Chris Kattans and Will Fortes and Jimmy Fallons who tried to become movie stars and failed.

Sudeikis may have made you laugh on the big screen, in supporting roles in such movies as the current The Campaign and last year’s Horrible Bosses. But is he a movie star? He has yet to prove he can open a picture all by himself and sell tickets on the strength of his own comic persona.

And what is that persona, exactly? It’s not well-defined. He’s had nine years on SNL to come up with a trademark, but his only major recurring characters have been the “Two A-Holes” Guy (a bit he did in tandem with the departing Wiig), the jogging-suited dancer on “What’s Up With That?”, and Romney. He’s not like Ferrell, who’s specialized (on SNL and in movies) in naive blowhards, or Sandler, who does volatile boy-men.

The versatility that makes him a good utility player on SNL could actually be a hindrance to movie stardom. Film audiences don’t know what to expect from Sudeikis. He hasn’t branded himself or created a dependably predictable comic experience that will make moviegoers comfortable enough with him to buy tickets on the strength of his name.

One expert who thinks Sudeikis shouldn’t quit his day job is Entertainment Weekly TV critic and editor-at-large Ken Tucker. “He may be feeling antsy, but his feature film career is not taking off,” Tucker told Celebuzz, scoffing at The Campaign as a potential star vehicle for Sudeikis. “But he’s very much a Most Valuable Player for SNL, all the more so with their other departures. Audiences at SNL shows really love him- — he often gets applause when he makes an entrance, and just his dancing on the ‘What’s Up with That?’ sketch is comedy gold.”

Still, Sudeikis could develop into a credible comic-romantic leading man on screen. He’s currently filming We’re the Millers, in which he shares lead role duties with Jennifer Aniston. Plus, as fans may know, Sudeikis certainly dates like a movie star, having been linked to such hotties as January Jones and current squeeze Olivia Wilde. (And to Aniston, or so it was rumored a couple years ago.) Wouldn’t all that seem to outweigh sticking around at SNL, when he’s been there for nine years already and seems to feel he’s hit a creative ceiling?

“Of course, I can understand him being tired of putting on a red jumpsuit and dancing for ‘What’s Up,'” said Tucker, who  does think Sudeikis could succeed elsewhere on TV. “But unless he got himself attached to a really good sitcom producer and premise, he ought to stay for another season..”


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