Michael Clark Duncan is former heavyweight champ Cleon Slammin Salmon in this exciting new comedy.

It's been two years since the Broken Lizard gang hit hard with their yeast-sipping cult classic Beerfest. This year, the boys return in the highly anticipated comedy The Slammin' Salmon. The guys see it as a true return to their comedic stage roots. It has been described as a parlor comedy; a fast past farce sold in the same vein as Road House and Glengarry Glen Ross.

In the film, Michael Clark Duncan stars as former heavyweight champ and restaurant entrepreneur Cleon "Slammin'" Salmon. When he becomes indebted to a local Yakuza syndicate in Florida for a huge sum of money, he instigates a high stakes competition amongst his wait staff. The Broken Lizard team, which consists of Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske, will, of course, be playing the restaurant's loyal servants. In an interesting change of pace, usual director Chandrasekhar has turned the reigns over to Heffernan this time out.

Last week, we were invited down to the set of The Slammin' Salmon to witness the Lizards in action. While a full set report will arrive closer to the release date of the film with "exclusive" video interviews from the Broken ones themselves, I can tell you guys that this looks to be one of their funniest films to date. I was expecting a rowdy group to be circled around the camera on set, but what I found was a very pleasant family atmosphere. While watching Heffernan and Duncan shoot in the next room, I had the pleasure of hanging out and chatting with Heffernan's mother and aunt. The two women were very funny and fun to talk to. They both had their own director's chairs with their names emblazed on them, which I thought was very cool. And I learn a few interesting tidbits about the director that I will be sharing with you in future coverage of the film.

We stood in Cleon Salmon's office off to the side of the kitchen, watching the crew work hard and fast. The scene in progress came on the monitor screen more like a clip from the actual film than something that was being shot on the spot in the next room. The whole team nailed the take in one perfect sweeping motion. It has been said that the Broken Lizard films get funnier and more poignant with each repeat viewing. There canvas is a giant Mad Magazine mosaic with tiny pieces of action going on in every corner. And that seems true of this, their fifth (sixth if you count The Dukes of Hazzard) film together. Their rhythm is like a hookless song that builds and gets better the more times you listen to it. As I sat watching this one scene, it built on its self in the repeated airing of its notes. What wasn't necessarily outright funny upon that first viewing became downright hysterical the third and fourth time they ran through it.

Just to give a quick overview, the scene in question has Michael Clark Duncan entering the restaurant on horseback. His former heavyweight champion Cleon Salmon is greeted with applause as he hops off his horse and removes the royal crown that is situated upon his baldhead. He signs a lobster tail for one of the dinners and then buys it back from the kid for a hundred bucks. Next, he is demanding a seat in his own restaurant. Maitre d' Rich Ferente (Heffernan) explains that the place is sold out due to the competition taking place. Salmon is so distraught by this news that he threatens to turn Ferente's nuts into a pair of cufflinks. During his tirade, he slips off into a tangent that ends with him describing his latest creation: a candy bar made of chocolate, nugget, more nugget, and bits of salmon. He believes that it will be a big seller in Japan.

Hilarious stuff. And Michael Clark Duncan sold it on every single take.

It is a very promising start to what will surely be another hit for the Broken Lizard gang. As I don't want to spill too much more about the film, I will have more with the guys in the coming months. So, stay tuned!

Just to catch you up to speed on what the guys have coming down the pike once the writers' strike is resolved: They are currently developing the film Ambulance Chasers for Warner Brothers. It is about an auto accident attorney that gets stuck in a competition with Los Angeles' number one Mexican-American "Accidentes" lawyer. Over at Dimension, they are developing Pony Bush, and their Taildraggers is currently being set up at Participant Pictures. Paul Soter also informed me that they have a television series that is very close to production, but they aren't ready to reveal its contents just yet.

The Slammin' Salmon does not have a tentative release date at this time. Hopefully it will hit theaters later this year.

B. Alan Orange