Then “The Slammin’ Salmon” shows up, and ironically, despite skipping theaters, it’s their best at-bat yet. It’s still just okay as a comedy — I didn’t laugh out loud once — but it’s far more focused than anything the five guys have done before.
The flimsy premise is this: At the titular seafood restaurant, owner/former boxing champ Cleon Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan) needs $20,000 in one night to pay off a gambling debt to the Japanese, so the manager (Kevin Heffernan) organizes an impromptu sales contest among the misfit staff. First prize starts out as Norah Jones tickets before being raised to $10,000; last prize, in a nod to “Glengarry Glen Ross,” is a “broken rib sandwich” from Salmon himself.
Hi-jinks ensue, involving frat boys, football players, a pop star (Vivica A. Fox), lesbians, a hooker, Morgan Fairchild, and a lone customer (Will Forte) just looking for a quiet place to read “War and Peace.” Running gags involve an engagement ring trapped in the manager’s colon, a crazy waiter (Jay Chandrasekhar) forgetting to take his meds, and the most attractive waitress (April Bowlby, something of an MVP here) getting her face burned.
It may not have you in stitches, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. With no nudity (well, female, at least) and a tad less reliance on the scatological, the Broken Lizard boys have served up their tastiest dish yet. It just needs a little spice. Next time, perhaps. —Rod Lott