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  The Slammin' Salmon

Starring: Michael Clarke Duncan, Kevin Heffernan, Cobie Smulders, April Bowlby

Directed by: Kevin Heffernan

Produced by: Richard Perello
Written by: Kevin Heffernan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhansk
Distributor: Anchor Bay Films

As seen at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival:

      The Slammin’ Salmon comes courtesy of the beloved-in-circles Broken Lizard comedy troupe, who has brought the world Super Troopers and Beerfest, among other films. While I have never been a fan of the quintet myself, this latest entry on their resume worked for me because it abandons their usual crude style—no small feat for the gang given gross-out gags are easy to do in food-related comedies like this one—and because it stars some highly talented non-Lizards.

     The premise is simple enough: former boxer and Miami seafood restaurant owner Cleon ‘Slammin’ Salmon (played by a balls-to-the-wall, outrageous Michael Clark Duncan) has to come up with $10,000 quickly so he can settle his debts with some Yakuza members. He challenges floor manager Rich Ferente (Kevin Heffernan) to do $20,000 in sales – $10,000 for the Yakuzas and $10,000 for the waiter with the biggest bills. Broad comedy ensues as the colorful group—off-his-meds Nuts (Jay Chandrasekhar), med-student Tara (Cobie Smulders), flirt Mia (April Bowlby), retard Donnie (Paul Soter), and washed-up “CFI: Hotlanta” star Conor (Steve Lemme)—duke it out for the 10 grand.

     While the individual jokes aren’t laugh-out-loud funny in and of themselves, the characterizations are. Michael Clarke Duncan lets all hang loose and somehow comes off as a completely credible boxer-turned-businessman, as manic and irresponsible as he is charming. Both of the women—How I Met Your Mother’s invaluable Cobie Smulders and Two and a Half Men’s ditzy charmer April Bowlby—are very funny and great to look at. Will Forte has a hilarious bit-part as a patron who spends the day sipping on water and iced tea while reading War & Peace cover to cover, much to the chagrin of his money-hungry waitress. And the whole Broken Lizard crew is the best they’ve ever been, especially Jay Chandrasekhar, who proves far more apt at physical comedy than usual, perhaps because for once he isn’t on double duty directing. This time, that task went to Kevin Heffernan—Farva himself—who does a competent job at moving the picture along.

     While The Slammin’ Salmon is decidedly minor and contains a few passages in which the humor falls flat, it’s one of the spunkier comedies I’ve recently seen, certainly the best Broken Lizard effort to date. That’s not a monumental accomplishment, but it’s highly refreshing amidst all the heavy movies and bad movies I saw alongside it at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival. Why no major distributor would so much as touch the film before now is a mystery to me, especially when considering the fact that studios have historically not only agreed to release, but fund, the group’s inferior past works.


-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 3.25.2009

Screened on: 3.17.2009 at the Alamo South Lamar in Austin, TX.


The Slammin' Salmon is rated R and runs 93 minutes.

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