×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Slammin’ Salmon

Broken Lizard's fifth bigscreen comedy seems unlikely to expand their fan base.

With:
With: Michael Clarke Duncan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, April Bowlby, Cobie Smulders, Lance Henriksen, Will Forte, Vivica A. Fox, Morgan Fairchild, Olivia Munn, Sendhil Ramamurthy.

Broken Lizard’s fifth bigscreen laffer, “The Slammin’ Salmon,” passes the helming baton from Jay Chandrasekhar to teammate Kevin Heffernan with no discernible change in the troupe’s high-energy, low-yield dynamic. Gags concern the fierce competition among the waitstaff of the titular upscale Miami eatery owned by former heavyweight champion Cleon Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan), as employees hustle overtime to cover their punch-throwing boss’s gambling debt. Reaffirming the ensemble’s usual blithe disregard for talent, timing or verbal wit, the pic seems unlikely to expand their fan base beyond those who prefer the bare-bones concept of a joke to its actual execution.

Hit-and-miss bits range from the excremental (strained humor involving an accidentally swallowed diamond ring) to the semi-sadistic (a waitress’s flirtatious come-ons to customers are greatly hampered by facial burns) in rounds of dirty-trick one-upmanship. Each staffer scrambles to pull in the most money, win the improbably promised $10,000 bonus and avoid the threatened booby prize of a “broken-rib sandwich.”

Following Broken Lizard’s past efforts (“Puddle Cruiser,” “Super Troopers,” “Club Dread” and “Beerfest”), the pic casts the group regulars in generic variations of their usual repertoire: Steve Lemme as a returning waiter whose career as star of “CSI: Hotlanta” was cut short when he surgically altered the enormous schnozz that got him the part; Jay Chandrasekhar as a soft-spoken server who throws caution, clothing and any semblance of civilized behavior to the wind once he goes off his meds; Erik Stolhanske as an amoral, skirt-chasing sleazeball; Kevin Heffernan as the restaurant’s brown-nosing manager; and Paul Soter in the dual role of the caustic chef and his newly hired, clueless identical twin.

Distaff honors go to non-Lizards April Bowlby as a balletic blonde and Cobie Smulders as a dedicated med student and the cast’s one nominally normal person. Generally effective cameos include Lance Henriksen as TV producer Dick Lobo, Morgan Fairchild as herself and Vivica A. Fox as pop-music diva Nutella (her second successful foray into improv-inspired comedy following her season-long stint on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”).

But it is the presence of Duncan as a Mike Tyson-esque, malaprop-spouting ex-champion that, at least momentarily, lifts the pic out of its mediocrity. Swinging between smiling generosity and lethal aggression, and prone to dramatic entrances (announced via a mic dropped ringside-style), Cleon Salmon is one bigger-than-life dude, and the infectious glee with which Duncan flexes his suitably over-the-top perf infuses the anemic goings-on with much-needed color and personality.

Popular on Variety

The Slammin' Salmon

Production: An Anchor Bay Films release of a Broken Lizard production in association with Arpad Prods. and Cataland Films. Produced by Richard Perello. Executive producers, Peter E. Lengyel, Julia Dray. Co-producer, Mark Benton Johnson. Co-executive producers, Marritje V. Greene, Gretchen Lengyel, Douglas Tansill, Brute Tully, Christina Zacamy, John Zacamy. Directed by Kevin Heffernan. Screenplay, Jay Chandrasekhar, Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske.

Crew: Camera (color), Robert Barocci; editor, Brad Katz; music, Nathan Barr; production designer, Erich W. Schultz; costume designer, Tricia Gray; sound (Dolby Digital), David Alvarez; re-recording mixers, Rick Norman, Peter Michael Sullivan; casting, Wendy O'Brien. Reviewed at Magno Review, New York, Nov. 4, 2009. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Michael Clarke Duncan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, April Bowlby, Cobie Smulders, Lance Henriksen, Will Forte, Vivica A. Fox, Morgan Fairchild, Olivia Munn, Sendhil Ramamurthy.With: Michael Clarke Duncan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, April Bowlby, Cobie Smulders, Lance Henriksen, Will Forte, Vivica A. Fox, Morgan Fairchild, Olivia Munn, Sendhil Ramamurthy.

More Film

  • Jessica Henwick

    'Matrix 4' Taps 'Iron Fist' Star Jessica Henwick

    Jessica Henwick is in final negotiations to star in the upcoming fourth installment of the “Matrix” franchise. She joins Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who will be reprising their roles in the film, as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who was tapped as one of the leads last week. Neil Patrick Harris also just joined [...]

  • John Turturro Big Lebowski Jesus Rolls

    The Unconventional Road to John Turturro's Unofficial 'Big Lebowski' Spinoff 'Jesus Rolls'

    By now, John Turturro is used to being recognized as Jesus Quintana, the flamboyant, purple-polyester-clad competitive bowling maven who stares down Jeff Bridges’ “the Dude” at the lanes in “The Big Lebowski.” The chameleon-like character actor has made multiple films with the Coen brothers, Spike Lee and even Michael Bay. But when he goes out [...]

  • Frozen 2

    Record 32 Animated Feature Films Submitted for Oscars

    “The Addams Family,” “Frozen II,” “Toy Story 4,” “Abominable” and “The Secret Life of Pets 2” are among the record 32 movies submitted for the animated feature film category at the 2020 Oscars. Last year’s Academy Awards race boasted 25 entries, while 2017 had 26 and 2016 had 27 (a then-record). The list of contenders [...]

  • Bebe Rexha Drops Music Video From

    Bebe Rexha Drops Empowering Music Video From 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' (Watch)

    Bebe Rexha has dropped a video for her song “You Can’t Stop the Girl,” the female empowerment theme from Disney’s forthcoming “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” Directed by Sophie Muller, the music video features scenes of Rexha reimagined as Maleficent and wandering through the film’s fantasy landscape, leading a marathon of women and snippets of the [...]

  • Sir Elton JohnElton John AIDS Foundation

    Recappin' Fantastic: The Most Fascinating Reveals from Elton John's Memoir, 'Me'

    How charming, and jaw-droppingly candid, is Elton John’s memoir, “Me”? Consider this: It’s a 350-page book that’s not so overly caught up in sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll — which, to be sure, it supplies in roughly equal, copious amounts  — that it won’t take a time-out to recount the party where Elton made [...]

  • Reese Witherspoon Kerry Washington Ryan Reynolds

    Market for Package Deals and Original Ideas Heats Up Ahead of Platform Launches

    Practically every studio in town wanted it, but in the end it was Apple that swept in to nab the reinterpretation of “A Christmas Carol” with Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds. To buy the highly coveted package, the tech giant was willing to shell out more than $60 million to the stars and the film’s [...]

  • Ruben Fleischer

    Ruben Fleischer Returns to His Roots for 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    Recapturing the personality of a successful film for its follow-up can be a challenging task for a filmmaker, given the story told, characters involved and especially the time passed between installments. But even after 10 years, “Zombieland: Double Tap” director Ruben Fleischer knew exactly what to focus on to ensure that his sequel lived up [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content