Well, yeah, 'cause it's not funny. Neither is...well, pretty much anything else in The Slammin' Salmon, but who's counting?
Just to get this out of the way, I really do chalk myself up as a Broken Lizard fan. When they connect, the troupe is pretty brilliant: I really dug Super Troopers and Beerfest, and even with as rough around the edges as Puddle Cruiser can be, I'd check their first flick off in the 'win' column too. Whenever it's a swing-and-a-miss, though...yikes. You're stuck with something like The Dukes of Hazzard, Club Dread, and — drum roll! — The Slammin' Salmon.
So anyway, Slammin' Cleon Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan) -- Heavyweight Champion of the World! -- retired from the boxing circuit undefeated. He was at it long enough to rake in a helluva lot of cash, and what Salmon didn't blow on kangaroos and oversized fish tanks, he funnelled into his ritzy Miami restaurant: The Slammin' Salmon. Thing is...? Salmon is kinda cash-poor these days, and he's twenty grand in the hole to a Yakuza boss after losing a bet on some Japanese albino hunting safari. He's only got till the end of the night to rake in enough cash from the restaurant to cover his debts. The Fracas in Caracas? No problem. The Dispute in Beirut? A cakewalk. Getting this bunch of screw-ups to shill $20K of crab legs and champagne? Yeah, that's a whole other thing. But hey, The Champ knows how to motivitivate his staff: the top-selling waiter trots out the door with ten grand in his-or-her pocket, and the loser winds up with a broken rib sammich. Of course, that means now they have to move thirty grand in seafood, but none of the belts the Champ has hanging on the wall say anything about math.
Okay, maybe you were expecting the setup to be followed by something like "...and hilarity ensues!" Oh, and I would've if...y'know, hilarity had, in fact, ensued. Nope. It didn't. Look, I'm a pretty cheap date when it comes to comedy. Point and laugh if you want, but I'm the guy who gave Sex Drive and Fired Up deliriously positive write-ups a while back. Hey, I'm all for a good dick/balls/fart joke. The problem with The Slammin' Salmon is that these are thirtysomething year old dick/balls/fart jokes. It's a cross between whatever sitcom came on after The Head of the Class in 1987 with some "haha, the fat man said 'balls'!" gag from 5th grade gym. Case...well, cases in point:
So, here's my terrible analogy: I first got hooked on stand-up back in the '80s, and there was this subhuman class of comedians I called "spork comics". They'd half-assedly throw together a bit without much of a setup, and the punchline was that they worked the word "spork" into the last sentence or two. You were supposed to laugh because a guy in front of a brick wall said "spork" into a mic. No wit, no spark of brilliance, nothing approaching actual comedy...just "spork". That's all
Don't get me wrong: there are brief — very, very, very, very brief moments of inspiration. The Slammin' Salmon sports a lovingly choreographed ballet sequence that culminates in an overly flirty waitress getting a first degree burn from a bowl of overcooked soup, and just when you're duped into thinking the movie's taken that gag as far as it could possibly go, it one-ups itself. Later on, The Champ suckerpunches a swordfish, and one of the waiters forgot to take his meds and has a fever dream where he's serving salmon to a tableful of kitty cats. (Well, that seemed kinda inspired to me, anyway.) Otherwise...? Blah. Even with as easy a mark as I am, there's not a single, solid laugh anywhere in the entire movie. At least The Slammin' Salmon can coast on the charms of its cast a little. Putting the fearless April Bowlby and the too-cute-for-words Cobie Smulders on the payroll to play the two waitresses was definitely a smart move. Seeing Will Forte, Olivia Munn, Lance Henriksen, Sendhil Ramamurthy, and Morgan Fairchild briefly distracted me from the sheer enormity of the comedic void devouring everything in sight.
There's just really not much of anything clever, shocking, witty, or subversive on the bill here. It took this independently produced flick a couple of years to line up a distributor, and it's not so tough to pick up on why no one wanted to bite. The Slammin' Salmon is a room temperature comedy with a sub-direct-to-video sense of humor. Who cares if the chef gets pissed about it? Send this undercooked comedy back for another pass on the grill, and I really do apologize in advance for such a shitty food analogy. Skip It.
The Slammin' Salmon is served up on a single layer Blu-ray disc. There's no matting or anything this time around -- straightahead 1.78:1 -- and the video's been encoded with VC-1.
Annoyingly, The Slammin' Salmon defaults to a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps) track, but if you mash the 'Audio' button on your remote or hit up the 'Setup' menu first, there's an uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack lurking around here too.
It's a standard issue, straight-off-the-shelf comedy mix, though: all of the dialogue rooted front and center, minimal ambiance in the surrounds, and pretty much nothing bobbing around in the low-end except for punchier notes in the score. So yeah, you get some clinking cutlery and crowd chatter in pretty much every speaker, and every once in a while, an effect like a 1st-degree-burn-induced-scream will roar from behind, but otherwise...? Might as well be two-point-oh stereo. The LFE can be gigantic when the score kicks in...to the point of sounding overcooked, almost...but that's just about all the subwoofer has to do. Some of the punches and pratfalls are reinforced with a decent amount of bass too, I guess. So, to sum it up...competent but forgettable? Sure, I'll roll with that.
There aren't any dubs — y'know, if you wanna hear how to say "motherfucker" en español — but there are subtitles in English (SDH) and Spanish.
Not much. There aren't any deleted scenes or anything, and the only outtake reel is what plays over the end credits.
The Final Word
The Slammin' Salmon isn't the worst Broken Lizard flick — nope, that nod still goes to Club Dread — but "not completely unwatchable" is about the best thing I can dig up for this one. Broken Lizard seems to be on this weird rhythm where they'll hammer out one hysterically brilliant comedy and follow it up with something that kind of limps around laughlessly, and The Slammin' Salmon falls more on that direct-to-video-sequel-to-Waiting... end of the spectrum. Oh well. Don't bother with this one, but I guess that one-on-one-off pattern oughtta mean that whatever Broken Lizard comes up with next should be really great. Fingers crossed. This one, though...? Skip It.