The Slammin' Salmon
- Reviewed by: 00Dylan
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The Slammin' Salmon is the latest effort from Broken Lizard, the team behind Super Troopers and Beerfest. Michael Clarke Duncan plays Clean "Slammin" Salmon, heavyweight boxer and owner of the Slammin' Salmon seafood restaurant in Miami, Florida. When Salmon becomes indebted to the Yakuza for $20,000, it falls on the crews' shoulders to earn the money in a single night. A contest is created to see who can pull in the most money and sets off a whirlwind of competitive hijinks.
The characters are entirely hit and miss, with some hitting the mark and others missing completely. It doesn't feel right to blame the actors, as they've all proven themselves effective in past endeavors. Broken Lizard guys aside, we also have Tara (Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother) and Mia (April Bowlby of Two and a Half Men), as well as the aforementioned Michael Clarke Duncan, who I'll get to in a minute.
The problem is that while Nuts (Jay Chandrasekhar), Salmon (Duncan), and the chef (Paul Soter) are hilarious, the other characters rarely inspire any laughs. Certain ones, like Tara and Connor (Steve Lemme) seem like they weren't written to be funny at all. And while Mia's burned face gag makes for one of the funniest scenes in the movie, it wears thin quickly but is stretched out across the entire duration. Soter deserves a special mention for playing dual roles as both the chef and Donnie, the new guy. Unfortunately, the chef is underutilized and Donnie is the closest thing the movie has to a straight man, and straight men are rarely funny.
Michael Clarke Duncan, on the other hand, deserves his own paragraph. Who knew he could be so funny. Duncan steals every scene he's in, and although he's in quite a bit, he definitely should've been in more. The foul-mouthed anger that exudes from the man has no identifiable source, which is always the funniest kind of anger. The chef is also angry, but we can assume it's because he hates his job.
The Slammin' Salmon involves several gags that run throughout the movie. Few are funny. Will Forte plays a customer that comes into the restaurant early on, only to sit and read War and Peace and never actually order anything. Even though his job in the movie is to literally do nothing, Forte is hilarious and the joke never seems to run out of steam, all the way to its ridiculous but funny conclusion. The same can't be said for the "missing" wedding ring or Donnie and the blue curacao.
The lack of funny is only half of the movie's problem. Nothing in the movie feels particularly connected. Although we know that everyone is participating in the same competition, everything plays out like a series of unrelated restaurant jokes. The characters don't interact much on the floor of the restaurant, which could explain the disconnect. Although we see them together behind the scenes, they somehow don't feel like part of the same world.
The Slammin' Salmon isn't terrible, it just isn't very good. There are funny moments, just not enough to sustain serious interest, even for the mere ninety minutes it runs. What's really frustrating is that all of the necessary elements are there, they just weren't used enough. Instead, they were pushed aside in favor of things a lot less funny.
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