Anchor Bay // 2009 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 15th, 2010
Bring a bib. It's going to get messy.
After watching the latest comedy from Broken Lizard, I had a sad realization:
these guys don't really make funny movies.BR>
The Slammin' Salmon, owned and operated by former heavyweight boxing champ Cleon Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan, The Green Mile) is one of Miami's most popular seafood restaurants. The wait staff is made up of an eclectic group of characters who are about to have their professional and personal relationships put to the ultimate test: desperate to pay back a huge gambling debt, the Champ offers $10,000 to the waiter or waitress who makes the most business and a punch to the ribs to the unfortunate sap who makes the least. This prompts a fierce competition on the floor, and before the night is over there will be fireballs and drunkenness and nudity.
I haven't seen Beerfest, but I've watched every other entry in the Broken Lizard canon, going all the way back to their first effort, Puddle Cruiser. Taken as a whole, with the woeful Slammin' Salmon figured into the mix, the Broken Lizard film collection just isn't that great. Super Troopers? Very good, but it's all downhill from there, cratering with this tedious, clichéd, unfunny restaurant romp that completely nukes a promising set-up.
It's too bad, because I genuinely like the Broken Lizard guys. They're charismatic and seem like a lot of fun and are absolutely fearless in their attempts to secure a laugh. The Slammin' Salmon is just a total misfire, with too much daylight separating the laughs.
I liked the premise. A busy restaurant can certainly offer fertile ground for hijinks and the contest angle gives the characters motivation to go nuts. But this potential never materializes, thanks to the high stakes late start (The Champ doesn't deliver his ultimatum until halfway through the film) and gags that are lame and familiar. For example: a girl gets hot soup thrown into her face, the manager swallows a diamond ring and has to pass it in the bathroom, a waiter goes off his meds and ditches his pants, a rookie is tricked into drinking alcohol that turns his mouth blue and is oblivious to this fact all night, the Champ swears a lot, Morgan Fairchild (who's alive by the way!) shows up with Lance Henriksen in a pointless cameo, and a fat guy falls down the stairs. And those are the sharpest gags! I did enjoy Paul Soter's violently psychotic head chef, but he wasn't on screen long enough to salvage the operation.
The Slammin' Salmon simply treads water, content with tossing low-rent slapstick and jokes that are either telegraphed from afar or just don't stick. The result is a flat, lifeless experience.
On Blu, the limp shenanigans at least look good, transmitted in a clean and colorful 1.78:1, VC-1 encoded, 1080p treatment. Details are sharp and the visual fidelity juices up the antics. Sure, the setting never changes, but who's going to argue with Cobie Smudlers in high-definition? Not me, sir. Traditional Dolby 5.1 Surround and PCM 5.1 mixes push the audio, both doing well in rendering the dialogue and occasional musical interlude. From a technical side, this a more than adequate disc, and is worth investing in. Extras: two commentary tracks from the Broken Lizard guys (they always deliver fun tracks) and a featurette where the troupe talks about their own experiences working in restaurants.
The film doesn't cut it, but the HD presentation performs to expectations.
Guilty. Send this one back to the kitchen.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Broken Lizard