The original Good Burger film debuted in 1997, bringing the zany fast food characters from Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell’s popular All That sketch to the big screen. The movie followed Dexter and Ed, an unlikely duo working at a small, quirky burger joint faced with competition from the towering corporate conglomerate, Mondo Burger. Fueled by wacky humor, cheesy but catchy songs, and the comedic chemistry of fresh-faced stars Thompson and Mitchell, Good Burger became a nostalgic cult classic for 90s kids.
25 years later, Good Burger gets an exclusive streaming sequel, with Ed and Dexter returning to save the titular restaurant once again. This time, a sinister tech company threatens to take over Good Burger and replace its workers with robots. While packed with references and cameos aimed at superfans, Good Burger 2 often feels more hollow and manufactured than its scrappy predecessor.
Much of the absurd physical comedy still works, thanks to Mitchell’s committed performance as wide-eyed Ed, but the film struggles to recapture the vibrant, rebellious spirit of 90s Nickelodeon. While not without its goofy appeal, Good Burger 2 ultimately serves up little more than reheated nostalgia, failing to take full advantage of the comedic gifts of its now grown-up stars. This lukewarm sequel might satisfy fans craving another heaping of silly comfort food, but doesn’t deliver the same full-flavor fun of the original recipe.
Fast Food Friends Reunite As Corporate Trouble Brews
Good Burger 2 picks up with lead character Dexter (Kenan Thompson) returning to his old workplace, the beloved Good Burger, after his latest entrepreneurial venture has crashed and burned. Broke and desperate, Dexter turns to his former fast food co-worker and pal Ed (Kel Mitchell) for help getting back on his feet.
In the 25+ years since audiences last saw them, Ed has remained loyally employed at Good Burger, now rising to own and manage the small restaurant himself. He greets Dexter with open arms, helping him land a job while Dexter mockingly writes off Ed’s career choice. Ed, meanwhile, has started a large, happy family—raising puzzling questions given his childlike naivete.
Ever the schemer looking for quick cash, Dexter soon hatched a plot with corporate bigwig Cecil (Lil Rel Howery) to sell Good Burger and cash out. Convincing the trusting Ed to sign a contract without reading the fine print, they unknowingly sign away the restaurant to the mysterious, nefarious MegaCorp company. They quickly lose their jobs and are horrified to learn Good Burger will be taken over by Katt Boswell (Jillian Bell), the icy sister of Mondo Burger’s infamous Kurt.
Katt, alongside an army of robots, transforms the scrappy Good Burger into an assembly-line corporate nightmare. Meanwhile, Dexter and Ed awaken to the grim reality of their foolish contract. Jobless and guilt-ridden over betraying his friend, Dexter resolves to help Ed get Good Burger back before it turns into an unrecognizable AI-driven burger factory devoid of real people or heart.
The underdog pals rally Good Burger’s wacky former employees as they prepare for an all-out battle to regain control from MegaCorp’s grip. With their jobs, beloved burger mecca, and some hard lessons about trusting corporations over community on the line—not to mention Ed’s ability to keep serving his nonsensical slogans with a smile—the race is on to take back Good Burger.
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Leads Deliver Nostalgia, But Few Surprises
Reprising his role as Dexter, Kenan Thompson brings over two decades of Saturday Night Live comedy experience to the sequel. But while his trademark reactionary expressions earn consistent laughs on SNL, much of Thompson’s evolved minimalist acting style feels subdued and out-of-step with the zany, physical comedy of Good Burger. Beyond a redemption arc tacked on as an afterthought, the writers fail to give Dexter any meaningful character development from the first film. He slides back into scheming and selfish habits all too easily, his bitterness toward Ed never fully justified or explored.
As Ed, Kel Mitchell remains exuberantly committed as ever to his man-child character’s outlandish affectations. Serving up inspired slapstick with wobbly mannerisms and vocal cracks, Mitchell proves a consistent comedy spark plug. While the innocent Ed of the first film might believably progress to family man over 25 years, not much effort is made to develop his character beyond the same guileless cheer and blind trust of authority. Mitchell’s physical gusto nearly makes up for the lack of evolution.
Most supporting player cameos stem from Kenan’s SNL circle rather than fellow All That alumni. The exceptions provide some genuine nostalgic joy, especially Lori Beth Denberg reprising her superfan customer Connie Muldoon. But many extended cameos feel wedged in solely for promotional value, including a cringeworthy “We Are the World” musical segment with the likes of Andy Samberg phoning it in from their homes.
While Thompson and Mitchell’s chemistry holds up reasonably well, their characters fail to demonstrate meaningful growth from the first film. Mitchell energetically wears Ed’s persona like a familiar old shoe, while Thompson—however amusing his deadpan reactions—seems stuck playing straight man to all the zaniness around him rather than fully embracing Dexter’s inner buffoon. The leads deliver sufficient nostalgic appeal, but a lack of inventive character development makes the reunion feel more manufactured than it should.
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Laughter Fueled By Nostalgia, But Low on Creative Spark
Rather than breaking significant new comedic ground, Good Burger 2 coasts heavily on recycled nostalgia and absurdity to earn its laughs. Inside jokes and references to the original abound, from repeated callbacks to Less Than Jake’s “We’re All Dudes” theme song to the triumphant return of characters like Connie “I’m a Dude” Muldoon. The writers bank on fans getting a chuckle from merely seeing familiar faces and hearing repeated catchphrases, lacking the courage to meaningfully update the humor.
The physical comedy provides some reliable entertainment, with Kel Mitchell throwing his lanky frame into Ed’s movements with aplomb. The laughs come most easily when Ed distractedly bumbles through slapstick or deviously smiling corporate execs literally crash meetings—the same over-the-top formula that worked in 1997. But much of the absurdist situational humor feels perfunctory, lacking the element of surprise that allows the best silly comedies to shock you into laughter.
Uneven as well is the film’s unsure comedic targeting, veering jarringly between innocent silly antics aimed at kids and ironic inside commentary trying to appease adult fans. Suggestive jokes about Ed’s virility clash with goofy wordplay puns you’d find on a Popsicle stick. By attempting to please two generations at once, Good Burger 2 often ends up pleasing no one completely.
The ceaseless cameo appearances epitomize the sequel’s comedy shortcomings. Roping in the likes of Maya Rudolph for a few seconds of airtime gets publicity, but rarely adds real humor payoff for audiences. Bit players are given nothing relevant or new to do beyond signaling “Remember me?!”, their abrupt appearances feeling more like coerced favors than organic storytelling.
While the zany energy remains willing, too many of the jokes feel warmed over rather than fresh. Mitchell’s physical hijinks and some sporadic bursts of absurdism will surely still tickle young viewers. But those weaned on the original may leave disappointed by the insufficiently inventive comedy it surrounds them with. We come wanting to relive that old Nickelodeon magic; we leave wondering if trying to recreate it so slavishly was any magic at all.
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Familiar Story Beats With Some Timely Themes
Good Burger 2 structures its narrative much like the first film, pitting plucky protagonists against a big bad corporation threatening the restaurant’s existence. Ed and Dexter reunite to defend the unique charm of Good Burger, rallying to take down the technocratic overlords at MegaCorp seeking to render all fast food production robotic and soulless. It’s a simplistic David vs Goliath conflict, paying lip service to resisting conformity and preserving individuality.
The themes targeting automation and dehumanization of service workers prove reasonably timely, as bots and algorithms increasingly edge out human jobs. However surface-level, the film lands a few solid blows critiquing the erosion of personable customer service in the name of profits and efficiency. Jillian Bell has devious fun as Katt, the corporate schemer disgusted by frailties like bathroom breaks. Still, the commentary remains broad, lacking nuance in pitting good, fun-loving workers against capitalist bogeymen.
Tonal inconsistencies also weaken the narrative impact, as the film struggles to balance nostalgic kid humor with messaging legitimately questioning technological disruption. Jokes undercut serious themes, like when Mitchell bumbles around as a malfunctioning burger robot. Is technology threatening everyday people’s livelihood or merely a harmless punchline? The story sends mixed signals toward its uncertain audience.
And while the themes mourn faceless chains crushing distinctive small businesses, the film itself feels ruthlessly calculated for maximum commercial appeal. Its knee-jerk anti-corporatism rings somewhat hollow considering its own transparent aim to capitalize on nostalgia. The sequel wants to be comfort food cinema while still paying lip service to resisting selling out.
It’s a well-meaning message, even if not completely earned. The Goliaths now terrorizing Good Burger have simply evolved from boorish Mondo Burger to Silicon Valley disruption. However oversimplified, watching Ed protest computers calculating away craft and personality carries legitimate underdog power. Just don’t expect the storytelling surrounding it to take many risks when thrills this pre-packaged will suffice.
Recycled Jingles Remind Of Missed Musical Potential
The insistence on repeatedly revisiting Less Than Jake’s “We’re All Dudes” feels less like affectionate callback than uninspired crutch. The credits offer a perfunctory “reunion” remix seemingly to check a box rather than make any coherent statement. And while the cameos flaunt current hot artists like Lil Nas X, their appearances generally lack meaningful integration into the storytelling.
This choir of disposable celebrities epitomizes the musical shortcomings—a wasted chance to capture some of the original’s punk rock for kids spirit with actual sonic attitude. Trendy artists lend their names but no real production style. And the returning anthems like “We’re All Dudes” feel more like an excuse to avoid new tunes rather than honor classics. Why not craft spiritual successors with similar messages suited to Gen Z listeners, rather than play lukewarm soundalikes?
Instead, the soundtrack leans on familiar comforts because it’s easier, lacking confidence to express anything bold and current. Admirably, it avoids obnoxious attempts to parody today’s hip hop or pop aesthetics for cheap gags. But the price is music lacking personality and zip, songs meekly hiding behind tempered production likely not to distract or offend.
We sway along not because these anthems dig their hooks in, but because we cling to faint echoes of what resonated before. The callbacks prompt bittersweet pining more than energy. Rather than make us feel the vibrant spirit of a new generation, it drones inoffensively to indulge old souls seeking safe refuge.
Familiar Style Lacks Nostalgic Punch
Given the rabid fandom harboring fond memories of Nickelodeon’s irreverent 90s aesthetic, the production design’s failure to meaningfully evoke that era comes as a disappointment. The cinematography has a flat, brightly lit sitcom appearance, forgoing any efforts to immerse viewers in the neon graffiti and anarchic energy that defined the network’s heyday.
Beyond the iconic Good Burger establishment itself, rendered in loving detail, the visuals offer no transporting time capsule back to the world that made us first fall for Ed and Dexter. It forgoes nostalgic worldbuilding to keep things generically inoffensive and airy. Various establishing shots capturing carnival-like Good Burger promotional events feel especially phony, with crowds that reek more of studio rental extras than organic community.
It becomes apparent that bringing the zany brilliance of 90s Nickelodeon to life would require a budget beyond what the film could scrape together. The studio environments cannot help but exude chintziness, the visual polish carrying all the plasticine sheen of a streaming movie churned out more for branding purposes than artistic expression. Director Phil Traill fails to leave any kind of meaningful directorial stamp.
While the characters still charm and the absurdism amuses in fits and starts, the visual presentation does little to amplify the elements that first endeared us to this world. It simply expects our own memories of a more inspired, seat-of-its-pants era to fill in the emotional gaps and carry it along. The movie relies on our nostalgia without offering nearly enough aesthetic nourishment in return.
Nostalgia Blast Caps a Warm, If Worn, Trip
For devotees who know the original Good Burger by heart, or remain loyal fans of Kenan and Kel’s comedic wavelength, this sequel offers comforting closure that never dares rock the boat. It brings back familiar faces and reliable absurdity to bask audiences in fond memories, hitting sufficient nostalgic pleasure centers to achieve its streaming-spinoff purpose.
And yet the heaviness of reliance on nostalgia drags down efforts to match the original’s vibrant irreverence. Mitchell taps ably into his juvenile core, but Thompson seems too wary of playing the fool amidst all the hijinks. What made them the perfect odd couple before now lacks balance. The story similarly indulges fan service without enough courage to update the formula. The pieces are too content recreating past magic to push new boundaries.
The result is an experience hollow at its core, however effectively the surface-level humor and celebrity cameos provoke knowing smiles. We expect these old friends to show some life wisdom, some new layers, some sense of how far from their scrappy origins they’ve come. But Good Burger 2 keeps them trapped in 1997 amber, limiting its own potential.
Still, for all its heavy leaning on recycled gags, the goofy spirit proves plenty infectious when landing. Whatever its checked-out cynicism, relics of a more daring era like “I’m a Dude” Connie still spark mischievous joy. And a chilled-out soundtrack aside, seeing Ed still flail with wild abandon or small businesses facing existential technology threats retains legitimate underdog power given the times.
Good Burger 2 doesn’t earn the full price of a ticket, or deserve to divert eyes from fresher cinematic meals awaiting our attention. But it merits a rentals browse or late-night streaming click, best enjoyed with comfort food and fellow fans shouting dialogue in unison. There’s less inspiration here than we hoped. But in plumbing familiar wells, a lingering magic yet remains.
Good Burger 2
Good Burger 2 is a nostalgic blast to the past that will sufficiently entertain die-hard fans, even if it lacks the invention to make a lasting impact on its own merits. Kell Mitchell taps heartily into his juvenilia while a constrained Kenan Thompson seems caught between accessing his inner child and sending it all up from a distance. The story similarly plays greatest hits without capturing the old spark of inspiration. While the goofy spirit still proves infectious when landing its recycled punches, it remains too slavish to the past to push boundaries. This lukewarm sauce might satisfy immediate cravings but won't stay long in your memory banks.
- Kel Mitchell delivers entertaining, committed physical comedy as Ed
- Absurdist humor and spontaneous wacky moments elicit some laughs
- Effective nostalgia trip for fans of original film and characters
- Addresses relevant themes around automation and workplace technology
- Captures a bit of the vibrant, rebellious 90s Nickelodeon spirit
- Goofy, feel-good vibe comes through in parts
- Overly relies on recycled jokes and gags from first film
- Kenan Thompson seems restrained compared to comedic gifts
- Lacks visual style and production value to fully capture 90s aesthetic
- Struggles to balance humor targeted toward kids and adults
- Cameos feel forced and serve little comedic purpose
- Fails to meaningfully develop lead characters