Hands up if you’ve seen Super Troopers. If your hand isn’t up, you can skip to the fourth paragraph, which starts with “So…”.
Is your hand up? Good. Keep it up there if you enjoyed Super Troopers.
If you’re still here and your hand isn’t up then there’s nothing here for you. If you didn’t like Super Troopers then a) there’s probably something wrong with you, and b) you’re very unlikely to enjoy Slammin’ Salmon at all.
So, if you’ve just skipped down from the top, welcome back. We’re about to discuss what Broken Lizard is. Broken Lizard is a comedy troupe made up of five writer/performers that have been responsible for the films Super Troopers, Club Dread and Beerfest. Their speciality is silliness. They don’t work exclusively together, and you may recognise them from other things.
They also appeared briefly as a collective in the big screen adaptation of The Dukes Of Hazard, which was directed by Broken Lizard member Jay Chandrasekhar (who, to give this some balance, directed some episodes of the first season of Arrested Development).
The Slammin’ Salmon finds the Lizards taking their brand of schtik to a restaurant. Owned by a former heavyweight boxing champion, the Slammin’ Salmon restaurant employees have one night to raise $20,000 or the restaurant will be taken over by the Yakuza. As an incentive to the wait staff, the person who raises the most money wins $10,000. High jinks ensue.
Let’s get this out of the way now: it’s not as good as Super Troopers, it’s better than Club Dread.
I was a little concerned at the beginning of the film because it takes a good 20 minutes to get going. Even then it doesn’t really start firing on all cylinders until you hit the 50 minute mark. Once you’re there, you’re good.
The cast are all fantastic. There are a couple of key people I’ll mention later, but certainly worthy of a mention is Cobie Smulders (who you might recognise from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother), who creates a likable and funny character. All of the Lizards are on top form, too. You’ll also see plenty of familiar faces popping up for small and silly roles (including some big names like Vivica Fox and Lance Henriksen).
If The Slammin’ Salmon gains any notoriety, it’s likely it’ll be for the performance of Michael Clarke Duncan. Clarke Duncan is perfectly cast as the confused and dangerous former boxing champ. He owns almost every scene he’s in and in any other movie his performance would have been the best on display. However, Lizard member Jay Chandrasekhar swoops in with his performance as Zongo and steals the show, completely out of nowhere. Both are excellent and elevate the film considerably with their performances.
The Slammin’ Salmon does have some problems. It’s a bit hit and miss with the jokes. Granted, they aren’t in short supply, but there are quite a few misfires which detract from the film. It’s also difficult not to compare everything Broken Lizard does to Super Troopers, and simply put, this is nowhere near as good.
Overall, though, it’s a fun, light comedy that deserves considerably better than a straight-to-DVD release (particularly at a bargain price). Seriously, I’ve seen some utter, utter shit in cinemas in the last 12 months. This film deserved a theatrical run.
Plus, as an additional recommendation, it’s worth remembering that a Broken Lizard DVD is more of an investment than most DVD purchases. This is the type of film that you’ll find more enjoyable with every watch and can come back to again and again.
There’s not a great deal contained within the bonus features menu. There’s an awful trailer (I watched the trailer after I’d seen the film, and it made me want to unwatch it ,even though I’d thoroughly enjoyed it. Marketing fail).
There’s also a strange introduction (I’m not sure what to) and a fluff piece where the guys discuss the time they spent working in restaurants that inspired the film.
However, in the audio set-up you’ll find you get two commentary tracks included on the disc. The first features first-time director Kevin Heffernan along with fellow Lizard Steve Lemme. This track is the more technical of the two, although they do a great job of keeping the track entertaining. The second commentary features the remaining three Lizards and is very funny. I rarely listen to commentary tracks any more, but I would strongly recommend both of these.
So, although the bonus features section may be a letdown, you will find three full hours of additional entertainment on the disc. Not bad.
Film: (add one if you think Super Troopers is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen)Disc: The Slammin’ Salmonis out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.