Netflix Movie Month: "Good Burger" Review

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

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Rating: PG
Length: 103 minutes
Release Date: July 25, 1997
Directed by: Brian Robbins
Genre: Family / Comedy

The 1997 film "Good Burger” stars the dynamic duo of Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, the leading child actors from the hit Nickelodeon show "All That”. The movie--a spin-off of one of their skits from the show--also features several of their regular co-stars, including a hilarious scene-stealing monologue from Lori Beth Denberg.

Ed and Dexter are teenage boys working at a fast food restaurant named Good Burger. Ed is not the sharpest tool in the shed, and Dexter is a smooth talking, girl-chasing coach potato. After Dexter damages his teacher's car in an accident, he joins Ed at Good Burger to save enough money to pay back his teacher: A friendly, disco-loving guy played by Sinbad.

At first, the movie seems to focus on fun and laughs, but conflict arrives in the form of a new burger joint, Mondo Burger, which opens up across the street from Good Burger and steals all of its customers with advanced technology, bigger burgers and faster service. Ed invents a secret sauce that brings more customers to Good Burger, but mayhem ensues when the Mondo Burger team, led by psychopathic owner Kurt Bozwell, tries to steal Ed's recipe.

Young fans of "All That” and its spin-off series "Kenan and Kel” are sure to enjoy this family comedy. The chemistry between the two leads is the formula that makes the movie worth watching, and it is easy to see why Thompson subsequently became a celebrated sketch comedy star on "Saturday Night Live”. His goofy antics, mixed with a charming self-confidence, make him fun and engaging.  On the flip side, Kel Mitchell's willingness to be the butt of all jokes adds humor to scenes that would fall flat without his goofy and rambunctious presence.

A cameo appearance by Carmen Electra as the seductress Roxanne makes for added laughs. It is downright hilarious to watch Carmen Electra, in sexed-up overdrive, failing miserably at landing a single kiss from a thoroughly uninterested Ed, who would much rather play miniature golf.

Fans of Linda Cardellini, the star of "Scooby Doo”, "Freaks and Geeks” and the hit television series "Mad Men”, are sure to get a real treat towards the second half of the movie. Playing a young mental patient that befriends Ed in an institution, she steals the show with just two scenes, and a few taxidermic birds used as hair clips.

The dance sequence at the end of the film is sure to be familiar to any Kenan and Kel fans, but this version packs a punch, as it is performed with the help of legendary funk master Bootsy Collins. Throw in Abe Vigoda of "Barney Miller” fame as an aging french fry cook who gets stuck in the groove with Bootsy and the boys, and the scene becomes a wild ride filled with joyful music and side-splitting humor. Mitchell really stands out as a limber and talented dancer.

At the heart of the story is the burgeoning friendship between a boy who is abandoned by his parents and a boy who has no friends because people find him slow. In one of the most touching scenes in the film, Ed begs Dexter to hang out with him. After his initial reluctance to befriend the dim-witted Ed, Dexter discovers a good listener in his new friend, and reveals that his father left him as a child after giving him a glow in the dark yo-yo. Ed later takes his extra earnings from "Good Burger" and buys Dexter a new glow in the dark yo-yo, happy that Dexter considers him his new buddy. However, unbeknownst to Ed, Dexter is actually conning him out of the money that Ed rightfully earned by creating and selling his secret sauce for Good Burger. Eventually, all ends well, as Dexter realizes that true friendship is what matters in life. This epiphany gives him the motivation to help save Good Burger, where his co-workers become his new family and he and Ed form a bond through mutual kindness and understanding.

"Good Burger” may not win any Oscars, but it is good old-fashioned family entertainment with a wide emotional range and a sentimental core. The cast is delightful and appealing and a number of actors make hilarious cameo appearances. Most of all, fans of Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell are sure to enjoy watching the two talented stars work together on the big screen. It is easy to understand why Nickelodeon chose to make a big screen version of Kenan and Kel's hit television shows.

Rating: 3 out of 5