PLOT: The wealthy Mayflower family takes their dining experiences very seriously. So seriously that they'll kill anyone who ruins dinner.
REVIEW: When I first heard the broad strokes of what director Matt Green's film SLAW would be, I found the idea to be a bit confounding - it's a SAW parody about food obsession. I just couldn't quite wrap my head around how and why those two elements would be mixed together. Making a movie about a foodie family of Jigsaws is nothing that ever would have occurred to me, but it is an idea that occurred to former wrestler John Kap, and he and writer Richard Tavernaro ran with it and brought it to the screen.
Tavernaro and Kap both also have acting roles in the film, Kap as one of the Jigsaw types and Tavernaro as one of the group of seven people who have been abducted and taken to a dungeon, where they awake to find themselves chained to a merry-go-round with a large clown head in the center. They are now at the mercy of the Mayflowers, who introduce themselves as Gordon and Martha - played by 6'8" Kap and 4'3" Aaron Beelner. The captives are told that they all have something in common, and they'll eventually come to realize that they have all insulted the Mayflower family in some way while they were out eating at restaurants. Unhelpful servers, rude fellow customers, cooks who tamper with food, anyone who has ruined a Mayflower dining experience has been brought to this dungeon to pay for their offense.
The food/restaurant theme carries over to the torture traps these people have to endure. One character has to survive for thirty minutes while coleslaw is poured into their face, filling up the plastic bucket that has been placed around their head. One who wrecked a birthday party has to sing "Happy Birthday" for thirty minutes straight with a shotgun in their face. Another trap involves trying to fill a bucket with mouthfuls of coleslaw laced with pubic hair. (Coleslaw plays such a prominent role because it's Martha's favorite.)
These goofy twists on traps may be the main draw for some viewers, but for a SAW parody this actually devotes surprisingly little time to them. Most of the captives don't even get their turn to be put in a trap. Instead, the primary focus is digging into the absurdity of Gordon and Martha's lives, which includes showing us the restaurant excursions and rude treatment that led to this situation, with these flashbacks allowing for a cameo by wrestler Kevin Nash, which paves the way for more ridiculous cameos by the likes of Bono, Johnny Depp, and Sammy Hagar (who are played by look-alikes).
Some time is also spent on the escape plan hatched by captive Amber (Baby Norman), who decides to try to seduce Gordon... and also seduce Gordon and Martha's Mama (Berna Roberts), who is actually their sister but for some reason goes around made up like an old lady and pretends to be their mom. I couldn't tell you why.
Weird and nonsensical it may be, but I'd take any scenes involving the Mayflowers and the celebrity stuff over another plot takes up a good amount of the running time, the investigation into the disappearance of the captives that is conducted by detectives Turner and Hooch (Escalante Lundy and Michael E. Sanders). Yes, Turner and Hooch. That gives you an idea of the sort of comedy this film is presenting, and for me the Turner and Hooch scenes sort of dragged it down. There are silly things going on in there, but I just wasn't interested in following their investigation.
As is the case with comedic films, your enjoyment of SLAW will be entirely dependent on how well the film's sense of humor meshes with yours. If jokes like detectives named Turner and Hooch might repeatedly cause you to chuckle or if you'll get a kick out of watching Kevin Nash play a very unpleasant version of himself, chances are you'll like SLAW more than I did. While there are several things within the film that I did admittedly find amusing, overall the filmmakers and I just don't have the same sense of humor. It wasn't long after characters started talking that I started cringing. The movie definitely has an air of confidence about its humor, it goes for it as if the filmmakers are certain that it's going to have viewers rolling on the floor with laughter, I'm just not in that target audience.
If you like wrestlers and staggeringly dopey jokes, SLAW is out there for you.