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Broken Record

Comedy collective flogs old and crass jokes in latest movie, “The Slammin’ Salmon.”

The movies made by the “Broken Lizard” comedy group have always eluded me -- a mildly amusing collection of genre parodies populated by the five members of the group who work as a dumbed-down, lowest common denominator version of Monty Python.

For their fourth feature, “The Slammin' Salmon,” the group takes on the gourmet restaurant world (and reality TV offshoots thereof) with a hint of the latter “Rocky Balboa” sequel thrown in for good measure.

A lot of the dialogue and bits are simple and juvenile, and tend to fall a little flat, maybe eliciting a chuckle or two, but not a lot more. Group member Eric Stolhanske, playing one of the waiters competing against each other to ring up the highest checks from patrons to save the restaurant from gamblers, makes a crack about a hot Bangladeshi woman, that he’d like to “bang her deshi.”

Another more repeated gag has group member Paul Soter, in one of his two roles in the movie, playing a busboy whose teeth and gums turn blue after he gets into drinking blue curcao liquer, prompting comments about him “blowing Papa Smurf,” and the like. There really isn’t very much wit added to these kind of fifth-grade level jokes, either in the writing or the delivery, in the movie. The five-member group, all of whom co-wrote the movie and play parts in it, don’t really bring much depth to any of the characters either, which is a failing, as the movie goes on through the machinations of its plot.

The guest stars in “The Slammin’ Salmon” do what they can with the material, to differing degrees. Will Forte, who also appeared in the group’s previous movie, “Beerfest,” is underused as a fussy patron, as is Cobie Smulders, who’s repeatedly excellent in the TV comedy, “How I Met Your Mother.” Michael Clark Duncan plays the ex-boxer who owns the restaurant to greater effect, although his eruptions of anger almost seem to be meant for a different kind of movie. April Bowlby, also a sitcom actress, fares a little better in the movie -- even though she’s a target for gags where she repeatedly gets accidentally burned, her delivery of some of the dialogue shows good timing at points.

When “The Slammin’ Salmon” is done, it’s really a minor, lower-budget work by a collective whose movies really only make a minor, lower-level impact in the comedy pantheon.

Just For Laughs -- Montreal Comedy Festival coverage sponsored by

Eric & LaNita Hazard; Irving & Sonya Rozansky.





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