Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Slammin' Salmon

Some filmmakers have earned enough goodwill that even when they make a bad or mediocre movie, it's still something you tell your friends to check out to decide for themselves. In this case, I'm talking about The Slammin' Salmon, from Broken Lizard, the team that brought us Super Troopers and Beer Fest.

I'll be upfront and say that this movie isn't that great. If you're looking for a movie a movie to watch on a night where you have nothing else to do, I'd pass on this one. Instead, save this for a night when you've got some friends over. Crack open a few beers and put this on when the conversation starts winding down. Feel free to talk over it.

As far as the Broken Lizard movies go, this one ranks at the bottom. Yes, I'm including Club Dread (which is actually my favorite, but apparently not well received by the public) and Dukes of Hazard (which actually isn't all that bad if you look at it in the same spirit of humor as their other films.)

With the group's previous movies, the plot was never anything significant. Basically, it was means to get from one drug/alcohol/sex/violent death joke to another. (The opening scene of Club Dread manages to accomplish all four in one go.) The same goes for The Slammin' Salmon, but in this film I think they should have put a bit more effort into the plot, which is apparently inspired by the time spent by the members of Broken Lizard working in the restaurant business.

In this film, Michael Clark Duncan plays a former boxer turned restaurant owner who owns $20,000 to the Japanese mafia, so he tells his manager to get the staff to earn that much money in a single night. The manager tries various tactics before the Champ offers $10,000 to whoever makes the most money, and a beating to whoever makes the least.

There are a lot of bad jokes in this movie, and by a lot, I mean the majority of them. The bulk of them end up being delivered by Michael Clark Duncan. His character is dumb and short tempered, so he'd say something blatantly stupid and threaten somebody with violence when they try to correct him, towards the end they start getting stale.

The same goes for Nuts, the character played by Jay Chandrasekhar (better known as Ramathorne from Super Troopers). He's mentally ill and forgets to take his meds partway through the night. The result is forced wackiness, but I get the sense he was hoping it'd come off as a sort of Captain Jack Sparrow type of crazy.

So why recommend this movie? There's various levels of bad movies. There's Meet the Spartans bad, which thinks it's being funny but is just pointless. There's The Happening bad, which is unintentionally hilarious. The Slammin' Salmon somehow falls in the gap between the two. It's not as funny as it's trying to be, but somehow by falling short it winds up being hilariously bad in it's own right.

The cast seems to be aware which jokes are good and which are bad, and downplay the bad ones appropriately. For example, there's a running joke about one of the waiters having once been on a show called CFI: Hotlanta. Every time the show gets mentioned it's done so with a self knowing, "It sounded better in rehearsal," delivery. They don't try to convince the viewer that a bad joke is comedy gold, allowing the good ones to stand out appropriately.

Like I said, watch this movie with some friends, some beer and a morbid curiosity of what an exceptionally mediocre movie looks like, and you'll enjoy it. Don't expect this to be your new all time favorite comedy, though.

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