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Grilled
DVD disk
08.08.2006 By: Jason Coleman
Grilled order
Director:
Jason Ensler

Actors:
Ray Romano
Kevin James
Burt Reynolds

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two low rent door to door meat salesmen on a big losing streak are given a last chance to make a big sale or be fired. When their final lead gets them mixed up with gangsters, hitmen, various unstable females, and a powerful mafia don, the two must sell more then just beef to stay alive.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
GRILLED is the kind of film that doesn’t mind sampling; meaning screenwriter William Tepper has borrowed a lot of elements from other films. A little AFTER HOURS, mixed with a generous helping of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (at least he took from a great like Mamet!) and a pinch of PULP FICTION, leaves the film lacking in the originality department. Not to say that the film itself is necessarily bad, as there are a few surprises and overall it does hold the audience's attention, but do we really need another movie with a Mexican stand-off? Be that as it may, GRILLED is a film with a bit of an identity crisis; it claims to be a comedy, yet feels and looks a lot like a drama. It's uneven nature is an interesting quandary, but also at times, a bit of a headache. Director Ensler’s direction here seems very unsure of itself; the film continually goes for jerky and funny asides when things get too tense. It’s the work of someone very green, more especially because GRILLED’s best moments (and one of the film’s pleasant surprises) are the quiet and uncomfortable silences between characters; I don’t think Ensler knew what good stuff he had.

One of the other rather stunning surprises here is the dramatic work by non other then, gulp, Ray Romano. Not to say that Romano is up there with Brando or anything, but his work as a slimy salesman here completely caught me off guard. With his ratty facial whiskers, greasy unkempt hair and salesman gleam in his eye, Romano does some very credible work here; almost reminded me of early Joe Mantegna (pre-BABY’S DAY OUT!). More towards the film’s comedic side is partner Kevin James, who is exactly the character you would expect him to be; namely Kevin James (though not all that funny!) and with the exception of another great turn by Reynolds (who is the only man who can pull off both comedy and drama in the same scene!), everyone here is fodder for the story. (And can someone please give Juliette Lewis a role other then just an annoying, whining floozy?) Will it entertain you? Probably, but is that all that is required from a film these days? (And even though the talk of various meats and BBQ secrets had me salivating, that still doesn’t make the film good!) GRILLED has a lot in common with the steaks the film’s salesmen are selling door to door – a Ribeye may have fat marbled through it, hence making it more flavorful, but a simple and less complicated steak like the New York, where excess fat can be cut off (after cooking, of course!) is not only a wiser choice, it’s a healthier one. (Just an opinion from one Barbeque-er to another!)
THE EXTRAS
While there is no Director’s Commentary, nor Tag-Team Romano & James track, there are a few Featurettes that are quite quick, funny and continue to prove the theory that less is more!

The Maury & Dave And The Company Featurette (15:08): A look at the making of the film, with everyone from Director Ensler to leads Romano & James. A short, but very thorough look at the film from start to finish; plus some very funny bits from both comedians and a little Reynolds hamming it up make a filling and fulfilling meal indeed!

Ray & Kevin: True Life Buddies Featurette (9:39): Would have been a total waste of a Featurette if both Romano & James weren’t so funny. (Plus very humbling to hear that both those big stars once shacked up at a Holiday Inn just like us regular folk!)

Deleted Scene: The Gormans (0:30): So short and unmemorable it didn’t even need to be included here!

There is also a Sneak Peeks section with Trailers for the films Face The Music, Getting Played, National Lampoon’s Adam & Eve and Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
While GRILLED is extremely familiar, blending a healthy portion of clichés and derivative moments from other indie films, it does have a very interesting dramatic turn from comedian Ray Romano. (Who would’ve thought I would ever say that?!) Slap that on the barbeque next to some interesting and unnerving moments and a few flavorful DVD Featurettes and you’ve got a meal that won’t go down in history, but it will satisfy.
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