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Saturday, 12 January 2019

Retro Review: Good Burger (1997)

Good Burger
Cast: Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Abe Vigoda, Sinbad, Shar Jackson, Linda Cardellini, Carmen Electra, Marques Houston
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $23 million

Plot: Two dim-witted teenagers are forced to save their fast food chain from closing, despite a new & improved burger joint that wants to be ''top dog'' of the fast food industry

'Hold The Pickles On This One'

When this film was screened to a selection of 15 film critics in the U.S back in 1997, nine of them walked out.

Good Burger is based on a sketch from a kids TV series, All That and with the success of Kenan and Kel making waves with the kids, Nickelodeon Movies took another gamble on the comic duo with direction by Brian Robbins (Old Dogs). Good Burger has a good helping of burgers, fries and fast food, yet unfortunately, it lacks any wit and the film's tone and humour will go over most people's heads, but for avid fans of Kenan and Kel.

Two so-called not very bright teens, Dexter and Ed try to save their fast food joint from going out of business with a rival competitor in Mondo Burger opening across the street trying to scupper their plans.

It doesn't have the witty banter or satirical commentary on fast food rivalry of Hong Kong comedy, Chicken and Duck Talk, nor is the story as engaging. But Good Burger is unfortunately uninspiring by taking the theme of fast food, and yet not doing something remotely outrageous, witty or adventurous with it, - and I'd admit I struggled to enjoy it immensely, with the jokes becoming repetitive and the humour's consistency overall, is so poor and not very entertaining, it just wasn't well written. It mainly consists of Kel's Ed (looking like a male Whoopi Goldberg with the dreadlocks) shouting,''Welcome to Good Burger!!, Home of the Good Burger'', which gets tired after say 3 or 4 times, and sounding like a stereotypical surfer dude or an extra on Beavis and Butthead

The dance scene in a mental hospital bumps this up to an extra half a mark, but the film's insistence on taking what was initially a TV sketch and stretching it out exhaustively for a feature film and not include additional and better slapstick and jokes is a mistake. I smiled once, twice (one scene being Ed, in a slo-mo scene, tries to stop a woman eating a good burger that is laced with some poisonous substance, and tackles her to the ground) but other than that, unlike most so-bad-it's good films or comedy films that I have enjoyed that critics have loathed, there wasn't one aspect that made me want to love it. Kel's schtick would have been fine - if it wasn't as grating as it became and I wanted this to work and to enjoy it, but the longer the story continued with no big surprises to speak of, meant I lost my enthusiasm towards it. I did watch Kenan and Kel as a teenager back in the 1990s - and Kel's love for orange soda, but whereas my younger brother at the time loved it, I was pretty much the opposite.

Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell do what they can with the material they are given; however, with that material, it fails to challenge their characters, as well as performers and there is arguably no genuine humour that develops between them. The remaining characters seem throwaway and don't really make an impact on the main plot or the story. With a runtime of 1 hr and 35 mins and with very little jokes and laugh-out-laugh comedy, it appears the producers and writers didn't make good use of these mins.

It really helps a great deal by being a fan of Kenan and Kel and familiarising yourself with their brand of humour and comedy and with that in mind, it understands its teen audience and aims squarely at them, because otherwise, Good Burger isn't going to sustain one's interest throughout. Having said all that, despite being a kids/teens movie, it could have tried a little harder to garner universal appeal too, with a more daring screenplay and to be more entertaining.

Final Verdict:

Teenagers will end up enjoying this one a whole lot more and whilst it is not wholly unlikeable in my eyes, it fell short in so many areas.

Unfortunately, this burger just doesn't cut the mustard.


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