Broken Lizard have never gained as much publicity in England as they have in America – and even there they aren’t huge – which is a shame, because I truly believe them to be a very talented group of individuals/idiots. “Super Troopers” was hilarious, “Club Dread” had topless gymnastics and “Beerfest” has one of the greatest scenes committed to celluloid – I think all very good reasons as to why Broken Lizard demand more attention. And so to “The Slammin’ Salmon” – the team’s take on the restaurant movie genre.
Now I understand that this is a well-regarded genre and has many devoted fans who don’t like to see pretenders to the crown – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been perusing the ‘Restaurant Movies’ section of Blockbuster before being banished by rabid ‘Restauranties’ unimpressed with my lack of cinematic culinary knowledge. So how does “The Slammin’ Salmon” compare to genre juggernauts such as “Waiting” and “Ratatouille”? Well I wouldn’t know because I haven’t seen either of those movies – hence my abrupt shunting from Blockbuster.
So taken aside from any filmic restaurant related snobbery, does “The Slammin’ Salmon” work as a ‘normal’ comedy? Well, it’s really rather funny – so yes, it does. Of course, such is the subjective nature of comedy, it’s a given that if you didn’t like any of Broken Lizard’s previous efforts, then you probably won’t like this – but if you’re a fan of their work, then you’ll love it. For those of you unfamiliar with Broken Lizard – if you think you would laugh at Michael Clarke Duncan shouting “WHATEVER MOTHERFUCKER!!” really loud in numerous scenes while the camera zooms in on his face – then chances are you’ll enjoy “The Slammin’ Salmon”. Luckily I did, and so I did.
The plot (haha, ‘plot’) surrounds Michael Clarke Duncan (he’s the “WHATEVER MOTHERFUCKER” guy remember) offering his restaurant staff $10,000 to whoever makes the most money, the reason being he needs the restaurant to make loads of money so that he can pay back a debt – I understand this reasoning makes no sense, but THAT’S THE JOKE wandy wandy woo.
It’s first necessary to bring your attention to Clarke Duncan – who’s quite the imposing presence, an advantage which often moulds most of his roles into requiring him to play some sort of hulking maniac (“Daredevil”, “The Scorpion King”), a role which he duly reprises here. However, this time around he’s also thoroughly and effectively flexing his talented comedic muscles, something which he doesn’t do enough for my liking – as the man’s a blast. He totally relishes playing an absolutely clueless yet extremely hard knob-jockey and he steals every scene he’s in – from entering the restaurant on a horse, to shouting very loudly, to punching people in the stomach – he’s got all bases covered.
The rest of the non-Broken Lizard cast are also top-tier in their roles. The awesomely-named Cobie Smulders smoulders (sorry) in her role as one of two sexy waitresses competing with each other, the other being April Bowlby – who shows a comic timing and unassuming willingness to look like an idiot that can only be applauded. There’s also a host of other great cameos like the always reliable Lance Henriksen, the always hot Olivia Munn, the always funny Will Forte, the always in a film called “The Hard Corps” with Jean-Claude Van Damme Vivica A. Fox, the always Morgan Fairchild Morgan Fairchild and the always annoyed because his show just got cancelled Sendhil Ramamurthy.
But it’s the Broken Lizard team who provide the man-glue that holds the film together – both behind and in-front-of the scenes. As with their other movies, each one has their own distinct personality and equal screentime – although the film definitely could have benefitted from some more Jay Chandrasekhar, whose performance is completely insane. Needless to say, they’re all adhering to their personal brand of comedy, and so their performances aren’t too much of a stretch from any parts they might have played before – but if you expected anything different, you shouldn’t really be attempting to watch this.
Overall, it’s well worth a watch for fans of dumb comedy and Broken Lizard, as it’s a consistently funny and relentlessly entertaining ride through one manic night at the restaurant from Hell that’ll be sure to please every fan of this sort of thing. It’s also so shamelessly upbeat and breaknecck that it might even be the film to sway those averse to Broken Lizard, as it’s almost impossible not to get swept along with the ludicrous fun that’s clearly being had by all involved.
And Michael Clarke Duncan keeps shouting “WHATEVER MOTHERFUCKER!!” which is pretty funny.
“The Slammin’ Salmon” is out now on Region 2 DVD from Anchor Bay.
Kevin Heffernan (director) / Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske (screenplay)
CAST: Kevin Heffernan … Rich Parente
Jeff Chase … Anthony
Carla Gallo … Stacy
Paul Soter … Dave / Donnie
Michael Yurchak … Jamie the Line Chef
Nat Faxon … Carl the Manager
Jolie Martin … Waitress
Erik Stolhanske … Guy
Jay Chandrasekhar … Nuts
April Bowlby … Mia
Cobie Smulders … Tara