Film reviews and more since 2009

Good Burger 2 (2023) review

Dir. Phil Traill

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ★★

It’s been over 20 years since we got some extended, quality time with Kel Mitchell’s Ed from Good Burger, and boy, was I primed for a reunion. Within the first few minutes of the latest, needless legacyquel desperate to get by on the laurels of nostalgia as opposed to storytelling, I was at least happy to see that although the times have changed, Ed certainly hasn’t. He’s still as lovably clueless as he was in the 1990s. He still enjoys a dip in his “strawberry jacuzzi,” and moreover, his raspy voice continues to make him fun to quote at every opportunity.

Like the flawed but serviceable (or at least edible) burgers and fries at your favorite fast food chain, Good Burger 2 serves up the comfort food you’re probably seeking if you dare press play on it. While it might avoid being a catastrophic misfire like Zoey 102, it probably won’t live up to the Good Burger sequel you’ve had time to let fester in your mind since childhood. I’m old enough to remember Good Burger 2 Go, a sequel novel to the original film that revolved around Dexter and others trying to track down Ed in hopes of getting him to make more of his Ed’s Sauce. I pleaded with my mother to allow me to purchase the book from one of those famous Scholastic Book Fairs. There’s a reason I am the way I am in my late 20s.

Good Burger 2 reunites us with Dexter (Kenan Thompson) and Ed (Mitchell). While Dexter has gone on to start his ill-fated company Dextreme Industries — which crashes and burns after Dexter fumbles a sales pitch in front of the Mark Cuban — Ed now owns and operates Good Burger. The two haven’t seen each other in six years, but with the failure of his invention, Dexter seeks out Ed for help. Dexter assumes his old position at Good Burger, with hopes of asking Ed — who now has a family, most notably a son named “Ed 2” (Alex R. Hibbert doing a pretty rad Kel Mitchell Jr. impression) — for the money to save Dextreme Industries.

Things get hairy when a persistent investor (Lil Rel Howery, Get Out) enters the picture and implores Ed to sell Good Burger off and cash out. This is actually a ploy from Katt (Jillian Bell, Rough Night), who has a connection with a major character from the original Good Burger.

The Good Burger staff is lightly humanized, and has predictably experienced a lot of turnover over the years (I can’t imagine anybody was expecting the reappearance of Dan Schneider‘s Mr. Baily). There’s a barely functioning elderly woman named Ruth (Anabel Graetz), identical twins Cindy and Mindy (Emily and Elizabeth Hinkler), Dexter’s niece Mia (Kamaja Fairburn), and Fizz (Josh Server), who is discovered frozen in a walk-in freezer and brought back to life early in the film.

Where the long-running joke of Dexter’s inability to care about anyone but himself (not even Ed) could’ve been the basis for the reason the two went so long without seeing one another — with unmistakable parallels to Thompson and Mitchell’s real-life rift years back — screenwriters Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert are quick to avoid anything but in-your-face situational comedy. Good Burger 2 wastes no time in supersizing the shenanigans.

Being that Kopelow and Seifert were once writers on Nickelodeon’s All That and Kenan & Kel, it’s not surprisingly that the scenes with Dexter and Ed harbor the spirit of the original Good Burger. When Kopelow and Seifert slow down and let the comedic magic between these two longtime comics percolate, this sequel can be pleasant and funny. The problem lies with the desire to make this a cameo-laden marathon of outrageousness, with the celebrity presence equal to any given year’s Super Bowl commercials resulting in about the same number of mild chuckles.

Everyone from Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC to Yung Gravy, Andy Samberg, and Rob Gronkowski get their 15 seconds of screen-time. The laughs become more and more scarce the longer the film goes, and it’s merely 85 minutes without credits.

Harboring high expectations for a Good Burger sequel and being angry and/or severely disappointed by the end result is a waste of energy on both fronts. The fact that Good Burger 2 is a watchable albeit inconsistently humorous affair as opposed to an unmitigated disaster deems it more of a success than it has any right to be. The pleasure of seeing Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell share the screen, and engage in their usual quippy, motormouthed-banter, is enough comedic fuel for an entertaining 40 minutes. Then a plot ostensibly scribbled on loose leaf paper takes over and we’re left with a meal that’s simultaneously bloating and slightly nauseating in its overabundance of empty calories.

NOTE: Good Burger 2 is now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.

My review of Good Burger

Starring: Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Lil Rel Howery, Jillian Bell, Alex R. Hibbert, Anabel Graetz, Kamaja Fairburn, Josh Server, Emily Hinkler, Elizabeth Hinkler, Darryl McDaniels, Yung Gravy, Andy Samberg, Rob Gronkowski, and Mark Cuban. Directed by: Phil Traill.

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About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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