Director(s): Jason Ensler Writer(s): William Tepper Starring: Ray Romano, Kevin James, Burt Reynolds, Kim Coates, Michael Rapport There are going to be some critics that say Grilled isn’t a good movie. They’re going to say that it’s too short, isn’t funny, is too wacky for its own good, and that its premise is a one-note […]

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Grilled

Director(s): Jason Ensler
Writer(s): William Tepper
Starring: Ray Romano, Kevin James, Burt Reynolds, Kim Coates, Michael Rapport

There are going to be some critics that say Grilled isn’t a good movie. They’re going to say that it’s too short, isn’t funny, is too wacky for its own good, and that its premise is a one-note joke.

Those critics are assholes.

As someone who cringes at the prospect of watching an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and doesn’t have many good things to say about “The King of Queens,” watching a direct-to-video film starring the two of them wasn’t high on my list of priorities. Lo and behold, I forgot to put movies in my laptop bag during the deadest day of work yet. All three copies of Basic Instinct 2 were rented out, so I walked a few steps to the right and grabbed Grilled off the shelves.

Grilled tells the story of Maurice (Romano) and Dave (James), a pair of door-to-door meat salesmen who have recently hit a slump. Whether it be on their own or as a pair, the two just cannot make a sale. Ultimately, they’re given one more day to make a sale before their boss cuts them loose. He even gives them cards full of information on prospective buyers that should be easy sales. As their luck goes, all but one of those cards literally goes out the window of Maurice’s car, leaving the pair with only one house to hit that will decide their fate.

And who else answers the door of that house but a beautiful Spanish woman who seems interested in not just the meat Maurice is selling, but also the meat he is packing. Just as she’s about to sign the check an emergency phone call sends Maurice and Dave on a wild ride that begins at the house of a suicidal, alcoholic mob queen (Lewis). It’s here that Maurice learns a secret about the Spanish woman. Shortly before this revelation the awesomeness of Kim Coates enters the house as mobster Tony, and after him is two gunmen (one being Rapaport) intent on whacking him. Wackiness, and the good kind at that, ensues.

The meat of Grilled is in the performances. Ray Romano and Kevin James are both better than I expected in the lead roles, with Romano going in the opposite direction of his TV persona. Supporting actors like Kim Coates, Burt Reynolds, and Michael Rapaport do a fine job as well. And what can I say about Juliette Lewis, who is so good in her role that it hurts. The script that these actors were handed isn’t tremendous, but their readings and mannerisms make it so. When the movie came to a close with the expected happy ending, I was actually smiling because I was so into their characters.

Speaking of the script, it’s hard to ignore some of the poor attempts at character development that occur. The revelation I spoke of earlier is garbage as well. That’s about it on the criticism end though.

Director Jason Ensler recently did the pilot for the FOX midseason show “Andy Barker: PI,” which stars Andy Richter as the title character. It goes without saying that the show is going to rock.
DVD: A deleted scene that really makes you wonder how it got past the scripting stage, a fifteen minute behind-the-scenes featurette, and a ten minute feature on Kevin and Ray’s real life friendship.

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