Over the years, cinema has produced some truly memorable buddy comedies, from Some Like It Hot And The Blues Brothers to Thelma & Louise and Superbad. One film in the genre that’s truly found its way into viewers’ hearts is Good Burger. The 1997 Nickelodeon movie, which served as a vehicle for rising stars Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, was an interesting way for Paramount Pictures to build on Nick’s film portfolio. However, it proved to be a commercial success and, over two decades later, it’s still highly popular. Ahead of its 25th anniversary, I rewatched the movie myself, and a few thoughts ran through my head as I did.
Good Burger, directed by Brian Robbins (the current CEO of Paramount and Nick), was adapted from the All That sketch of the same name. The breezy romp centers on the dim-witted, but lovable Ed, who teams up with high school underachiever Dexter Reed to save the restaurant he’s devoted his life to. The result is a humorously sweet adventure about friendship, loyalty and fast food. I’ve watched the film many times but not as critically as I did this time around. So let's stop wasting time and start talking out these thoughts, dudes!
Kel Mitchell’s Performance As Ed Is Somehow Even Better Than I Remembered
It goes without saying that Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell were a comedy dream team, as Nickelodeon fans are still enjoying their namesake show on Netflix today. However, Mitchell deserves a considerable amount of individual praise. I always thought he was perfect in the role of Ed, but I don’t think I truly realized just how well cast he was.
While watching the movie this time around, I (once again) chuckled during his major moments like the strawberry jacuzzi and the date night sequence. Though I also marveled at how the then-18-year-old star managed to balance comedy with sincerity. Kel Mitchell has spoken of his disastrous SNL audition, though, when thinking about his work in this movie, it still baffles may that he never made the leap to the next level of sketch comedy like his co-star.
Good Burger Pushed The Boundaries When It Came To What Nickelodeon Could Do In A Kids’ Movie
Something that truly hit me while rewatching Good Burger is that the flick really walked a fine line content-wise. It’s definitely made for kids, providing the jokes and slapstick that delight younger audiences. However, there are a few moments that are so explicitly aimed at adults that it’s amazing that the studio actually OK’d them. For instance, there’s Ed’s unintentional jab regarding Dexter’s absent father, and don’t even get me started on Carmen Electra’s role as Roxanne.
But, what I had to remember is that this film was released during the early days of Nickelodeon Movies, when the banner’s only production up to that point was Harriet the Spy. So the creatives had some serious wiggle room, as the company attempted to establish the tone of its cinematic ventures. Eventually, the studio would mostly opt for traditional (and enjoyable) animated ventures, many of which were adapted from Nick’s famous shows. There weren’t too many adult or teen-oriented comedies after GB, except for the so-so 1998 comedy Snow Day, 2006's fun Nacho Libre and the cringey 2012 Halloween picture Fun Size. Simply put, I really wish that Nick had been able to make more of those “edgier” live-action projects.
Good Burger Effectively Utilized Veteran Comedians Abe Vigoda And Sinbad
While the two leads are more than capable of carrying the movie, they’re also accompanied by a fun group of actors. Among that group of supporting players are comedy legends Abe Vigoda and Sinbad. Fans are sure to remember that the former plays elderly and cantankerous Good Burger fry cook Otis, while the latter portrays Dexter’s endlessly unlucky and ‘70s-obsessed teacher, Mr. Wheat. Neither star gets a ton of screen time but, when they do appear, they never waster their moments.
When I first watched Good Burger as a child, I only barely knew who Sinbad was due to his appearances in some other kid-friendly fare (Sesame Street, First Kid, etc.). As you’d expect, I also had no idea just how revered Abe Vigoda was. Their talents are definitely apparent to me now, though. Whether it’s Mr. Wheat lamenting the destruction of his car and mailbox or Otis dryly muttering, “I should’ve died years ago,” both stars hit their marks. Now, more than ever, I remain in awe of the fact that the producers saw fit to cast them.
The Good Burger Soundtrack Is Nothing Short Of Impeccable
You really can’t talk about this movie without discussing the music and, man, does it deliver on that front. This film is a ‘90s release and, as such, it features a soundtrack that’s very true to the time. 702’s “All I Want,” Warren G’s “Friends,” and Mint Condition’s “That's the Way (It's Goin' Down)” are just a few of the tracks you’ll find. Though I’m a ‘00s kid, hearing these songs still stirred up some nostalgia within me.
Of course, multiple generations are familiar with the feature’s most iconic tune – “We’re All Dudes,” performed by Kel Mitchell and Less Than Jake. The song still slaps over two decades later and, in hindsight, it’s actually pretty progressive, considering that it uses “dude” as a gender-neutral term. I’m confident that folks will continue to revisit this song and the soundtrack as a whole for the foreseeable future.
Nickelodeon Should’ve Made More Films Based On All That Sketches
Good Burger was, and still is, one of All That’s signature sketches. Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell even revived it for a skit on The Tonight Show several years ago. Still, the classic show had a number of other great recurring characters that would’ve been prime fodder for cinematic endeavors. Thompson’s SuperDude, Mitchell’s Coach Kreeton, and Josh Server’s Detective Dan are only a few of the funny personalties that could’ve made the jump to the big screen.
Looking back, one can’t help but wish that Nick had parlayed the film’s success into a string of sketch-adapted features. As mentioned though, the studio eventually transitioned to animated theatrical content almost exclusively. I’d personally still love to see the likes of Ms. Piddlin or Repairman get films via streaming services. The chances of such projects happening are slim but, then again, I never thought I’d see Thomspson or Mitchell involved in an All That revival, either.
Good Burger is a pretty straightforward film, though it did give me plenty of things to chew on. Here are a few more thoughts that came to mind during my latest viewing:
- Jan Schweiterman deserves more credit for his work as campy villain Kurt Bozwell.
- Shaquille O’Neal and George Clinton’s cameos are so much fun.
- The more I watch it, the more evident it becomes that Drake Bell and Josh Peck owe the Kenan & Kel stars a lot for opening the doors for them.
- The mental institution sequence, while fun, doesn’t hold up as well, considering how we view mental health today.
- Carmen Electra’s presence will always be hilarious.
- I still want to know what was actually used to make the “Ed sauce.”
- If someone could crack a sequel, I’d be down for it.
Those who’d like to revisit Good Burger for themselves can stream it if they have a Hulu subscription or subscribe to Amazon Prime. Also, if you just want more of Kel Mitchell and Kenan Thompson, stream Kenan & Kel and check out our thoughts post-rewatch.
Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
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