Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Good Burger

The main problem with Good Burger (1997), based off the sketch from the Nickelodeon series All That, isn't the thinness of the story, the cheapness of its production values, or the hypocrisy of a corporate entity such as Nickelodeon to glorify the virtues of a small-town burger joint while vilifying a national chain. No, the biggest problem is its main character, Ed (Kel Mitchell).

Between his fake dreadlocks, grating voice, and idiotic behavior, Ed is one of the most un-endearing, painfully unfunny "wacky" characters I've ever seen in a movie. Everything he does or says is painfully telegraphed to the most moronic of punchlines and slapstick. By the end, I was begging for a movie of more substance and maturity, like the latest Rob Schneider vehicle.

Everything involving Ed is painfully unfunny or horribly contrived. What conclusion would you draw about someone whose idea to fix a milkshake machine is to climb into the milk and ice cream only for someone to tell him it wasn't turned on? Or that he showers with clothes on? Or the first thing he does after being told not to tell anyone the ingredients of his secret, best-selling sauce is begin to tell the ingredients of his secret, best-selling sauce?After all the trouble he causes and the damage that's resulted, Ed is never fired. Ed may be well-meaning, but he's so inept and clumsy, there's no justification why anyone would put up him, let alone his boss. Ed's antics drive customers away, and yet he's the only one at Good Burger apparently that can work the front counter.

Sorry for the rant. On with the plot. Ed is employed by Good Burger, a local burger chain now threatened by the corporate chain Mondo Burger, which opened up across the street and is offering bigger burgers. Meanwhile, Dexter (Kenan Thompson, another All That alumnus and current SNL cast member) has taken a job at Good Burger to pay for the damage of a car crash involving his Blaxploitation teacher, Mr. Wheat (Sinbad!), not realizing Ed caused the accident. Good Burger looks finished, but a new secret sauce developed by Ed catches on.

Even if the rest of the movie was charming, funny, or endearing, Ed would still be a yawning black hole sucking the enjoyment out of anything remotely entertaining, but the rest of the movie is a write-off regardless. There's nothing here that really constitutes a joke. It's all weird, stupid behavior for the most undiscriminating of children to giggle at (and I should know, I saw this in theaters when I was 9 for a birthday party).

There are few things worthy of a smile or chuckle. Kenan Thompson isn't bad playing the straight man to Ed (although why he never strangles him, I'll never know). Sinbad's 70s' behavior and wardrobe is way out of place, but he's amusing on occasion. And the always reliable Abe Vigoda is good as Otis, an elderly Good Burger employee, although I think they missed an opportunity by not implying he's his same character from The Godfather now in hiding from the Corleone family.

I know some people will say this is for kids and that I shouldn't be so hard on it. I say, there's better children's entertainment out there, even from Nickelodeon. Give children some credit. At least Spongebob can competently cook a Krabby patty.

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