Good Burger

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Good Burger

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: Good Burger follows Kenan Thompson as Dexter Reed, who ends up in a bit of a pickle when he gets in a car accident with his teacher. With no driver’s license and his mother out of town on business, Dexter must get a summer job at the local fast food joint Good Burger. The only problem is a new Mondo Burger just opened up across the street, owned by a complete douchenozzle who is threatening to put Good Burger out of business. So Dexter is left with no choice but to team up with Good Burger’s loyal but dimwitted employee Ed (Kel Mitchell) to figure out a way to keep the place afloat and maybe take out Mondo Burger at the same time.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: Good Burger is by no means some kind of masterpiece. It was critically panned when it was released back in 1997, and it made $23.7 million at the box office, so it was hardly a hit. But if you grew up on Nickelodeon, then Good Burger was absolutely your jam, and I’m happy to tell you that it’s a movie worth a second look.

Thanks to the comedic spark between Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, there’s an infectious energy that makes Good Burger work far better than it has any right to. The teens cut their teeth on Nickelodeon’s All That, a Saturday Night Live-style sketch show for kids, which is where the bones of Good Burger developed into a pillar of comedy for kids of the 1990s. Their chemistry was undeniable, especially when they took it to their own sitcom Kenan & Kel, also on Nickelodeon. Good Burger gives them an entirely new dynamic to try out as Dexter and Ed aren’t friends at first, with Dexter constantly finding himself bewildered and frustrating by Ed’s lovable idiocy.

But what makes Good Burger work outside of nostalgia? There are plenty of movies that people love as kids only to watch them as adults and find out how terrible they are. Though Good Burger is hardly going to be a cinematic revelation, it carries a spirit that calls back to the zany comedies of the 1980s and there are silly gags that still work surprisingly well to this day. The movie features a hip new burger joint called Mondo Burger using an illegal chemical to make their burgers huge and appealing to customers, forcing the scrappy duo of Kenan and Ed to figure out a way to take them down in order to keep Good Burger from going out of business. It has elements of Fast Times at Ridgmont High, Dazed and Confused, Risky Business, and Meatballs, but in a much more zany, family friendly Nickelodeon package. For the modern crowd, there’s a bit of Clerks and Waiting in there too.

Good Burger is the kind of movie you’re happy to rediscover as an adult. At first, it’s the leftover nostalgia that gets you to sit down and watch it, but when you actually pay attention, you find the movie actually has some flavor that makes it taste good after all these years. You don’t even need Ed’s secret sauce to spice it up.

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