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Overall Rating
3.93

Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look85.71%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 7.14%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 2 user ratings


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Slammin' Salmon, The
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by Jay Seaver

"A full menu of comedy."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL: I have more or less ignored Broken Lizard for what are pretty stupid reasons: The trailers for "Super Troopers" didn't amuse me and it later became a movie much-loved by people who were fans of comedies I disliked. I should probably give them another shot, since "The Slammin' Salmon" won me over by the end, indicating that maybe I shouldn't judge these guys by a small sample.

After an entirely disposable opening that introduces us to former boxing champion Cleon "Slammin'" Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan) and his Florida seafood restaurant, we get the set-up for one crazy night there: Salmon needs $10,000 to settle a bet with a yakuza by the end of the night, so he challenges manager Rich (Kevin Heffernan) to raise it, even though it's well above the usual take. He, in turn, makes it a challenge for the wait staff to see who can sell the most, which includes an out-of-work actor (Steve Lemme), a reasonably rational med student (Cobie Smulders), a flirty dancer (April Bowlby), a heavily-medicated loon (Jay Chandrasekhar), and a guy who hates the world (Erik Stolhanske). Then there's a pair of identical twins (Paul Soter), one the prima donna chef, the other the panicky new busboy.

Heffernan, Lemme, Chandrasekhar, Stolhanske, and Soter are the Broken Lizard troupers, but they are extremely generous about giving plenty of good jokes to the "guest stars". In fact, Michael Clarke Duncan proves to be the film's most valuable player: Whenever the story threatens to settle into a rut, Duncan pops up with some new bit of insanity or highly threatening stupidity to further put the screws to the rest of the cast; by the end of the movie, the audience is laughing as soon as he appears, because it's a near-certainty that something extremely funny is going to happen. Bowlby also throws herself in whole-heartedly, and the various restaurant guests are all amusing.

The regulars are good, too. Heffernan (who also directs) takes straight-man duty for most of the picture, but he almost can't help but do so, since he spends more scenes opposite Duncan than anyone else. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Chandrasekhar, who is bizarre as "Nuts" even before the guy goes off his meds to serve up an orgy of lunatic bad taste. Lemme and Stolhanske mostly work as a team, with one picking at the other's wounded pride, but they aren't limited to that; Soter lays low for much of the first half before being brought in to change things up later.

The movie is built as a competition between the characters, but it's not particularly important who wins; we're not particularly rooting for one waiter over the other because he or she is nice or has earned it by being the butt of jokes or other frustrations. It's basically a way for Heffernan and company to crank the pace up to high and keep it there right up until the end, spitting out a new joke every thirty seconds or so and letting the characters get more frazzled. Some of the jokes are crude, some don't really work (watching Sendhil Ramamurthy do a slow burn while waiting for the wait staff to retrieve a swallowed engagement ring isn't nearly as funny as it should be), and some aren't for everyone (that I laughed hard at a running gag with Ms. Bowlby's Mia probably marks me as a bad person), but a lot more of the bits work than don't, and the group is good at mixing them up so that there shouldn't be any extended periods of the film pushing people away. They've also got a knack for balancing the sometimes mean-spirited comedy with characters who are, by and large, likable, though just selfish enough to set themselves up for a fall.

All in all, "The Slammin' Salmon" winds up being a comedy freight train - those things take some effort to get started, but once they do, they're almost impossible to stop. This one's got Duncan to get and keep it moving, along with enough funny bits to keep the audience laughing all the way through the end.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=18503&reviewer=371
originally posted: 04/22/09 14:11:43
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/02/10 Lacey M Awesome cast, boring movie! A few parts where I kinda chuckled..thats about it. 2 stars
4/23/10 Grace Loved it and it's high energy comedy. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Dec-2009
  DVD: 13-Apr-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  11-Dec-2009
  DVD: 13-Apr-2010




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