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MPAA Rating: PG (For Language, Some Comic Violence and Mild Sex-Related Humor)
Running Time: 95 minutes
Starring: Kel Mitchell, Kenan Thompson, Sinbad, Abe Vigoda
Written by: Dan Schneider and Kevin Kopelow & Heath Seifert
Directed by: Brian Robbins
Retail Price: $19.99
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Stereo Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (20 Scenes)
Released: May 27th, 2003
"I hate to put a black man in jail!"
As I've ranted on this website time and time again, it's a pretty rare thing to have a television show become a successful movie. Forget the fact it's hard to take a show and stretch it to a feature length time, you have to please fans of the show, those who aren't familiar with the original source material and critics happy. It's not an easy thing to do. But a harder thing to do is take a sketch and turn into a 90 minute movie (I say it's just as hard as brain surgery). Honestly now, why do you think most Saturday Night Live spin-off films fail at the box office? For every "Wayne's World" we have fifty "Coneheads." But that didn't stop Paramount (who distributes all the SNL movies it seems) and Nickelodeon for trying to do something pretty damn impossible.
I don't know why I know this, but "Good Burger" was actually a sketch on the Nickelodeon sketch variety show "All That" (which has paved the way for some top tween talent like Amanda Bynes). Ironically, that show has been billed as an "Saturday Night Live for kids." Nonetheless, I assume the "Good Burger" sketch was popular enough to warrant a feature film. Who the hell knows how this was pitched either, but I should point out that good buddies/former "Head Of The Class" co-stars Brian Robbins and Dan Schneider play active parts in this movie. Schneider co-stars and co-wrote it, Robbins co-produced it and directed it. Oh, and both created "All That." I guess summer time is a good time for kid flicks, but this film (released in July 1997) wasn't a giant hit, making around 24 million dollars. I guess it was profitable thanks to video sales and the 9 million dollar budget, but something probably wasn't right since we've yet to see other "All That" feature film spin-offs.
So how's this for a plot? Free-wheelin high school student Dexter (Kenan Thompson) crashes his mother's car with his teacher's car (Sinbad - what the hell ever happened to him!?). This means he needs to pay back his teacher for the damage, and instead of getting a nice relaxing summer vacation, he gets to work at Good Burger (after being fired from a rival chain). That means he gets to spend time with the wacky Ed (Kel Mitchell). But all is not right in the land of fast food, as the forty-year old establishment is threatened by mega-chain Mondo Burger which is opening across the street. Will Good Burger survive? Will Mondo Burger thrive? Will Ed EVER stop acting stoned?
I still don't know who really enjoys this movie. It's one of those kids movies that are pretty damn shitty for children because it's so non-sensical. The humor consists of references that will probably go over kiddies heads (are "Shaft" and civil rights references for the adults who are pained to watch this with kids?), but is mainly controvided of pervert jokes (Good Burger's manager tells Ed he fired the delivery boy because he always showed up for work without his pants), the art of making a burger (watch Mondo Burger employees become speechless when Dexter screws up creating a burger), cults (YOU CANNOT ESCAPE MONDO BURGER!), HIIIILAAAARRRIIOOOOOUS slapstick humor (girl being dragged on concrete? WHOA!) and stupid wordplay. Dan Schneider is an admirable talent so I'll let him go off easy. Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert should be shot. The script is naturally predictable, pointless, dumb and whatever negative adjective describing bad movies should go in this space.
Oh, and this movie looks fake. And I mean really fake. The extras are really great at "acting" and the sets look so damn contrived, and makes me question how this movie cost 9 million dollars (cheap in the film world, but it looks cheaper!). The film is poorly edited and feels quite messy. I noticed some mistakes myself. Check out the opening scene when Ed races to work. He crashes into a woman holding the baby. The baby is white. When he crashes into her, the baby is not only a fake doll but is black. And it keeps going back and forth like that. Dangerous stunt? The fake black baby. Safe stunt? Real white baby. Maybe there are some secret racist messages within "Good Burger." I might have to watch this movie thirty times and really analyze it, and if I'm lucky, I might not comit suicide by the end of the fourth viewing.
Brian Robbins is also talented, but thankfully as time has proven, he's gotten to be a much better director rather than a one-note actor turned director. He directed the very likeable movies "Big Fat Liar" and "Hardball" (and not so likeable movies like "Ready To Rumble"). But everyone needs time to get better, and being familiar with "All That" and everything, I guess it was natural for him to direct the movie. The acting in the movie is actually decent. Kenan and Kel never reached Laurel and Hardy or Amos and Andy status, but they had a successful sitcom on Nickelodeon and they share a natural, fun chemistry that is always apparent on screen. The actors in the movie, believe it or not, have a strong level of enthusiasm as energy (perhaps they overact). Kel is great at acting high (enjoy the trippy opening dream sequence!) and Kenan is mesmerizing as the whiny fat boy who learns to value work over play. Throw in Abe Vigoda, a righteous Sinbad and a cameo it seems from up-and-coming star Nick Cannon and you've got yourself one damn fine ensemble (even Arliss himself, Robert Wuhl pops up!). The actors are fun to watch... probably because their characters are so damn stupid and clichéd.
If there's anything to like about "Good Burger," it's just about everything because it's so bad. You can't help but laugh at how stupid the jokes are, how bad the plotting is, how one-dimensional the characters tend to be and how it's a pretty lazy attempt at cashing in at something that was once popular. But with that said, it's really enjoyable because it's so tedious and stupid. It's one of these great movies where you can call your friends over and mock to death, over and over again. "Good Burger" is a movie that shouldn't be taken seriously because it's actually a serious attempt at crafting a funny children's comedy.
This family comedy is given the widescreen treatment - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen treatment to be exact (no full screen version is on here and there is no full screen version available). Given the film is only a few years old, it actually looks pretty good. It's pretty obvious there was no effort whatsoever to clean this movie up. It seems a straightforward transfer was done, and that's fine. Despite for some blemishes and scratches here and there as well as an overall soft look, the transfer is pretty impressive. Fleshtones look very nice, detail is superb and color saturation is incredibly vibrant and pops out nicely (the film is actually pretty colorful). There is some slight noise on the image but there's no edge enhancment to speak of. Overall, a solid job.
There's an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that's decent, and nothing more. There are some nice surrounds, but there aren't too many surprisingly and most of them feel contrived, just like the movie. Dialogue is clear and for the most part easy to listen to, but sometimes I found the music overpowering the dialogue. The music itself is probably the best part of the mix as it sounds natural, fills the channels nicely and creates some good moments for the subwoofer (and is pretty loud). Dynamics are nothing special either in this mix but fidelity is pretty good. Also included is an English Dolby Surround track, French stereo surround track, English closed captions and English subtitles.
In what seems to be an effort to piss off (and possibly unite) all the "Good Burger" fans of the world, there are no supplements on this DVD. No making-of promotional material, no original sketches of what inspired the movie and in what is a crime, no commentary by Kenan and Kel. For shame!
Though you do get some REALLY scary looking disc art. Warning: Kenan and Kel will possess yourself if you look directly into it.
Yeah, "Good Burger" is nastier than the McRib sandwich. It's almost like a time capsule of sorts, showcasing 1990s tween talent before the tween industry was so damn huge and representing a popular show's attempt to set their stakes higher, perhaps create a new movie franchise (that went nowhere). Who knows where Kenan, Kel and Sinbad are now, and I can't help but feel pity for poor Abe Vigoda. For those who want this classic 1997 flick on DVD, you get a decent widescreen transfer and fine 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. No extras, but the list price is cheap. So go out there and someone make this a cult movie! Or better yet, don't.