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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Good Burger
Good Burger
Paramount // PG // May 27, 2003
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted June 5, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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"Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger. Can I take your order?"

With those fourteen words, the course of comedy was forever altered. Well, twelve words, two of which are repeated once. And "the" is a definite article, so maybe it doesn't count. I dunno. But in any event, no movie has so consistently touched the hearts of DVD Talk readers as 1997's Good Burger. The movie has inspired literally dozens of discussions on the forum, innumerable fantasies about an ideal DVD release, and even mock cover art for the inevitable Criterion Collection edition. Even I got caught up in this adoration of a movie I'd never actually seen, ineptly 'Photoshopping' together a fairly widely circulated Criterion cover for Good Burger based around their Silence of the Lambs disc. The infectious fawning over Good Burger has been a long-running inside joke on DVD Talk, one that didn't show any signs of ending when Paramount announced its release on DVD and one that sure as heck isn't going to stop with this review.

For the uninitiated, Good Burger is a feature-length take on a pair of recurring characters from the Nickelodeon sketch show "All That". Kenan Thompson stars as Dexter Reed, who careens into his teacher's beloved car and winds up with thousands of dollars in damages to cover. Dexter reluctantly seeks out a summer job and winds up, not surprisingly, at Good Burger. He's quickly taken under the wings of the gravelly-voiced Ed (Kel Mitchell), a fellow dimwitted yet devoted employee. As Dexter and Ed learn about life and love through the wonder of fast food, their jobs are threatened by the emergence of the monomaniacal Mondo Burger that's opening across the street. Mondo Burger's overinflated patties snag away all of Good Burger's customers and threaten to shutter its hallowed doors for good. Ed inadvertently saves the day with his wildly popular secret sauce, which both Dexter and the badniks at Mondo Burger quickly set out to exploit. Hilarity ensues.

Some readers may be rolling their eyes at my semi-coherent rambling up to this point, feeling that I'm just perpetuating a joke that grew tired a couple of years ago. They are, of course, correct, at least to a point. My biggest motivation in deciding to give Good Burger a gander was because the movie had become so terrifyingly legendary on one of my favorite forums. When I say that I enjoyed Good Burger, I don't mean that in some sort of smirking, kitschy kind of way. At the risk of blowing what tiny shred of credibility I may have as a DVD reviewer, I genuinely thought Good Burger was funny, and it me laughing out loud more than any movie I've seen in...well, weeks. Admittedly, though, high-brow comedy it's not. The gag that had me bursting into laughter longer than anything else in its 95 minute runtime involved Ed shoving grapes up his nose and singing. Good Burger's sense of humor is frenetic and hopelessly silly. Viewers who can wade through some of the bad puns and infrequently amateurish acting from the supporting cast ought to find a pretty decent number of laughs throughout.

...and then there's the cavalcade of guest stars. I don't use the word 'cavalcade' lightly nor do I really ever use it at all, and in fact, that particular term has only been used a scant nine times throughout the 6,300-plus reviews archived on DVD Talk. Yes, I checked. Rather than just rattle off a wholly uninteresting list of the celebrities that litter Good Burger, I decided to create a little gallery of shots of the cast. If you're intensely bored and up for a mild challenge, try to see how many you can recognize. If you get too stumped, for one, you're probably either a lot older or a lot younger than I am...but leave your mouse hovering over an image and a brief description will magically appear.
Robert Wuhl, in what appears to be his most recent feature film credit.  You'd think Arli$$ would make him a bigger draw. Dan Schneider, who played Dennis Blunden on 'Head of the Class'.  Brian Robbins, also of 'Head of the Class' fame, directed, incidentally. This shot is probably too small to tell, but that's J. August Richards of 'Angel' fame.
Sinbad needs no introduction or faux-witty ALT text. Abe Vigoda.  I could've picked a shot where his face wasn't almost entirely obscured, but what's the fun in that? Ron Lester, who'd previously worked with Brian Robbins in his directorial debut, 'Varsity Blues'. Matt Gallant, who gets my nod as the most grating television personality ever.  He's a reporter for UPN this time around, although that's surprisingly not played as a laugh.  Ah, sharing the love in Viacom's happy corporate family. The always lovely Linda Cardellini :swoons:, who still looks far cuter than anyone has a right to, even with stringy hair and next to no makeup.
Shaq, in between his memorable starring roles in 'Kazaam' and 'Steel'.  He shares a scene with Matt Gallant.  Could 'Good Burger' BE any better? An uncredited Carmen Electra, who's supposed to play a seductive love interest.  Maybe it's just me, but I don't find Carmen Electra the least bit appealing.  Now Linda Cardellini... :continues swooning: George Clinton, shortly before a funky interlude.
Try it. You'll like it.

Video: Brilliant films dismissed as being "kids' movies" often get short thrift on DVD, but as Good Burger transcends age boundaries and similarly constraining classifications, Paramount saw fit to present the film as it was intended to be seen. Accordingly, Good Burger is presented in anamorphic widescreen at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.

Good Burger was not surprisingly shot on a slim budget, and accordingly, its appearance on DVD doesn't have the glossy sheen of pricier blockbusters. Still, the presentation, as is often the case with Paramount's catalog titles, looks great. Initially, Good Burger struck me as kind of being of an indeterminate sort of age, where someone could have told me the movie was shot anywhere between 1987 and 1997, and I would've believed 'em. Though I did find the palette to seem the slightest bit drab early on, colors look phenomenal in a number of scenes, particularly the Mondo Burger opening extravaganza and the climactic kitchen raid. These scenes are drenched in vivid, practically neon hues, from the bright purple lighting in the background to the shiny splattered condiments. Crispness and clarity remain respectably high throughout as well. The source material is clean, exhibiting no visible wear and only a handful of negligibly tiny white specks. Some portions of the movie exhibit some light noise, but this appears to have more to do with the way this low-budget effort was shot rather than a fumble at the telecine stage. Good Burger's anamorphic widescreen presentation isn't likely to bowl over home theater enthusiasts, but I'd give the quality of the video a fairly enthusiastic thumbs-up, looking quite a bit better than I went in expecting.

Audio: Good Burger has been given the six-channel treatment on DVD with its Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kbps) soundtrack. There's a fair amount of driving in the movie, offering a number of opportunities for pans across channels, particularly up front. The surround channels are often neglected in comedies, but Good Burger keeps the rears a bit more active than most, beginning with a hallucinatory dream sequence in which Ed dances with floating, bug-eyed cheeseburgers. A couple of other scenes, most notably a Huge Scary Rampage in the asylum and the grand opening of Mondo Burger, feature some nifty activity in the surrounds as well. There's also plenty of ambiance provided throughout Good Burger, including squealing tires, chirping birds, and mechanical whirring in a garage. The music in the movie, from the expected pop hits to the score by former Police drummer Stewart Copeland, contributes most of the activity in the lower frequencies. (Perhaps not coincidentally given Copeland's role as composer, Good Burger's soundtrack includes a modern pop take on "Roxanne".) The substantial amount of bass ranges from thumpin' to thunderous. Although the music was responsible for the bulk of the low-end, the explosive (!) finalé also left my subwoofer rattling the room. Some of the dialogue sounds a bit rough, particularly Dexter's side of a sugary sweet conversation with Monique around 53 minutes in, but never really to the point of distraction. Like the video, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio isn't demo-worthy, but it's a very solid effort given the material.

Good Burger includes a smattering of other audio options, including stereo surround mixes in English and French (192Kbps), English subtitles, and closed captions. There's nothing quite like watching Good Burger in a foreign language, so I thought I'd offer a tasty sample (64kps; 27.7K).

Supplements: Good Burger, being an early feature-film effort from Nickelodeon, got a biggie-sized promotional push as it first roared into theaters. I seem to vaguely remember seeing a "making of" special at one point, and a music video was lensed for "We're All Dudes", Less Than Jake's contribution to the soundtrack. Alas, neither these nor anything else at all have been tacked onto this disc. Oh, I have some small glimmer of hope that Good Burger's inevitable success on DVD will lead to a disturbingly loaded special edition, but there's nothing but the movie -- not even so much as a trailer -- to tide fans over for the time being. Oh well...there's always "Savage" Steve Holland's critically acclaimed sequel, "Good Burger 2 Go", which sadly never made the transition from print to celluloid.

Good Burger comes packaged in a standard Amaray keepcase and includes an insert that lists the movie's twenty chapter stops. The disc features a set of static 16x9-enhanced menus.

Quick Note To Parents: Good Burger is a PG-rated movie, and it features a dollop of the sort of mildly naughty language that rating permits. I certainly wouldn't consider that offensive, but parents thinking about picking up this movie based on the Nickelodeon logo plastered on the cover may want to take that into account before making a purchase.

Conclusion: All kidding aside (well, some kidding aside), Good Burger is the sort of movie that if you think you might like it, you're probably right. DVD Talk readers intrigued by the non-stop references to Good Burger on the forum ought to find this disc at least worth a rental. Though the lack of any extras at all comes as somewhat of a disappointment, the DVD's palatable price point -- available for less than $15 shipped from several online retailers -- makes a purchase of Good Burger a little easier to swallow. Recommended.

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