Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie with Abe: The Slammin’ Salmon

The Slammin’ Salmon
Directed by Kevin Heffernan
Released December 11, 2009

A film from a comedy troupe can be very enjoyable because the performers working in concert can often make for true hilarity. A film with a title like “The Slammin’ Salmon,” however, doesn’t exactly show much promise. The comedy troupe known as Broken Lizard has produced films in the past both stupid and funny, like “Super Troopers,” and stupid and abysmal, like “Beerfest.” This one isn’t quite as despicable or unbearable as the latter, but it’s certainly not as entertaining or fun in any respect as the former. The members of the troupe are all putting in the utmost effort and acting over-the-top, but it’s just a film that can’t quite be salvaged.

“The Slammin’ Salmon” is a very gimmicky film, which presents a challenge within its first half-hour that serves as the driving force for the next hour. The humongous, menacing owner of a restaurant, former boxing champion the Slammin’ Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan), needs to pay off $20,000 in money to the mob by midnight, and therefore all of the waiters have to compete to earn as much money as possible so that the Salmon can pay off his debt. It’s a movie that makes less and less sense as it goes on, with manager Rich (director Kevin Heffernan) and Salmon offering continually large rewards for the waiter with the highest sales, in a way that makes it seem lie it could never possibly pan out correctly. It’s not a movie concerned with making sense, of course, but it’s all just pretty ridiculous.

While Broken Lizard is somewhat entertaining, they’re all quite outrageous and obnoxious. It’s the cast members who aren’t players in the troupe who display much more skill. Duncan is particularly entertaining in the role of the Salmon, where he’s able to ham it up as much as possible and use his towering stature to intimidate and play with all of the other actors in the film. Cobie Smulders (“How I Met Your Mother”) provides the film’s only slightly acknowledged heart, and April Bowlby (“Two and a Half Men”) has a good time playing with the boys as a waitress whose desire to win is compromised by an accidental encounter with some boiling hot liquid.

“The Slammin’ Salmon” is mostly about gross-out comedy that delights in repeatedly making everything seem like it will turn out fine and then introducing the most preposterous and ludicrous of obstacles to hinder the happiness of its characters. It’s more frustrating than it is funny, and often even seems a bit tempered and held back for its own good. It also uses the typical crutch of drugs (prescription, in this case) to make one character seem all the crazier, and that’s a bit of a disappointment since it could have been cleverer without that. It never would have been a great film or even a decent one, but at least it’s more entertaining than the somewhat similar but considerably duller “The Strip,” so that’s a small victory for the Slammin’ Salmon.


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