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Kel Mitchell tells NPR what to expect from the 'Good Burger' sequel

They're back and more burgery than ever.
Vanessa Clifton
They're back and more burgery than ever.

Good Burger was one of the great '90s cult classics, staring Kel Mitchell as Ed and Kenan Thompson as Dex — two best friends working at the same fast food restaurant.

And now, more than 25 years later, the burger-slinging duo is back with Good Burger 2.

It's a project that Mitchell says they've been wanting to make ever since the first one came out back in 1997.

He spoke with All Things Considered host Juana Summers about the significance of the beloved project then — and how it fits into his life now.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Interview Highlights

Juana Summers: It's now been more than 25 years since Good Burger the original first hit screens. And I want to start by asking you, do people still come up to you and ask you to quote that movie?

Kel Mitchell: Yes, all the time. Literally happened about an hour ago. [Laughs] "Kel, can you say welcome to Good Burger?"

But yes, it does. It happens a lot. And, you know, I love it. I love that I've done something that is near and dear to people's hearts.

Summers: How did the plans for this sequel come together?

Mitchell: Well, we've been wanting to do part two since part one. And I feel like about two years ago, that's when it started to really get on its feet.

When we did the Jimmy Fallon reunion, that was super amazing. The fans loved it. It just made it more real. We had already been talking about doing it more, but that got the studios like, "OK, yeah, we really need to do this."

Then it was like, well, what's the story? Let's get into the script. And Kenan and I both produced this one as well, so it was just great to work with the writers, Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert, who are amazing.

They wrote the first one, and [it was amazing] for us all to work together and just make this a movie that can also stand on its own.

Summers: We have to talk about that voice that people keep asking you to use to quote those famous lines from that movie. Can you talk to us a little bit about Ed's voice?

Mitchell: Well, I actually created the voice in my audition. It was a voice that I was doing here in Chicago, when I was doing theater. And I would always have fun with my cousins.

We would say, wouldn't it be cool if Saved by the Bell lived in Chicago, the kids from there? And how would they talk, these California kids? And so we would talk about Chicago stuff, but talk like we were Valley kids like, "Woah dude, yeah!"

And so I did that in the audition because they were like, "Do you have any characters?" And I did a bunch of characters. I did my coach in there, and that was Coach Kreeton from All That and a ton of other characters that turned into characters on All That. But Ed was the one that just keeps going that everybody just gravitated towards, which is super cool.

Summers: One of the brightest things that shone through is this really beautiful, lovely story about friendship and loyalty. So I want to ask you about your friendship with Kenan Thompson. I mean, you guys had not been on a set like this together for years. What was it like working together again and reprising these characters?

Mitchell: Oh, man, it felt amazing. For me, like, this is the show that we started in 1994, and then a movie in '97, and then now we're still doing it in 2023.

And for us, man, I mean, this is like my brother. This is what you hope for. You're playing a character and you have these friendships that usually, when you say cut in some of these movies, you might not talk to the person again for a while, but for us it's been awesome.

It's like this family that we have, even with our [own] family, and our moms are friends and everyone hangs out. And so it's really, really cool that we get to have this journey with our entire family together and with Kenan and I both.

With the comedy, it was like riding a bike. When we got right back into it the first day, we was just like, "OK, let's get into this."

Summers: What do you think it is about Good Burger that makes this movie, this place, so relevant still to so many people, even 25-plus years later?

Mitchell: I really feel like it's the underdog story, you know what I mean? I guess the mom and pop restaurant, going up against these major corporations and you're rooting for them, I mean, you really rooting for them.

And then it's also, I explain this all the time, Good Burger feels like comfort food. When you eat comfort food, you have a memory of the first time you ate it, and then the moment that you're eating it [now]. And so that's what Good Burger 2 gives you, all this great nostalgia, but then [also] what's to come in the future and what you're doing now.

And the family aspect of it all, where this is a movie that you can watch with everyone, you know from grandma all the way down to the toddler, everybody can be on the couch. We're bringing that back where you can just have the whole family watch and no one has to leave the room.

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Mia Venkat
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Tinbete Ermyas
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.