The line between idiocy and genius, when applied to comedy, will have varying results. Charlie Chaplin was a tramp. Today’s male comedians are mostly man-children. Trying to outgrow such a phase can be problematic for fans who want more of the same.
Why bring this up at all? Because as someone whose menu for visual stimulation changes about as often as Hannibal Lecter’s dinner guests, there was a time when a cheap laugh would be more than enough to please me. During my college days I watched Adam Sandler comedies, Dumb and Dumber, MTV’s Jackass, and Family Guy, the list goes on. I didn’t care; I was a sophomore. Enjoyment of sophomoric humor comes with the territory.
When Fox Searchlight, an outfit that was then best known for The Full Monty – a comedy about six unemployed men who decide to perform a male striptease act – released Broken Lizard’s Super Troopers in 2002, it was reviled by critics. Roger Ebert was torn writing that he couldn’t quite recommend but indicated that it was “the kind of movie that makes you want to like it.”
The Broken Lizard comedy group, consisting of Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske, was not the second-coming of National Lampoon. They couldn’t even contend with Judd Apatow’s Rolodex cadre of comic friends. The BL boys would make several comedies together (including Beerfest and Club Dread), though none attained the level of re-watchability as Super Troopers. The cult following it accumulated from video rentals, sales and dorm room viewing has allowed for a sequel…sixteen years later!
Comedy sequels are a recipe for disaster and mostly fail. Caddyshack II. Fletch Lives. Scary Movie whatever. Plus you have to consider the swath of time between the original and the sequel. What may have worked for a 17-year-old may not work when he’s nearing forty.
Super Troopers2 plays well enough because it still carries the mindless fun of the original. Comparing both, it can’t hold a candle to the shenanigans the highway patrol officers of Spurbury, Vermont carried out on the people they pulled over. The Meow Scene with Jim Gaffigan still makes me laugh. Super Troopers is not a comedy classic but it gets better the more times you watch. That’ll likely be the case with a sequel that is profane, crude, and a little culturally insensitive to our neighbors to the north.
Fifteen years have passed since Thorny (Chandrasekhar), Mac (Lemme), Farva (Hefernan), Rabbit (Stolhanske), and Foster (Soter) were kicked out of the Spurbury Police Department for an incident involving Fred Savage. America, however, is the land of opportunity and second, third, and fourth chances. A group of officers is needed to patrol a patch of new American territory on the border between Vermont and Canada. The troopers are just the men to take on the challenge. But there is resistance from the area locals and the Mounties who served the town. To add to the frustration, Capt. O’Hagen (Brian Cox) and his men bumble into a smuggling ring tied to the land switching hands between Canada to America.
The smuggling of narcotics, weapons, and a particular male-enhancing agent that would pair nicely with Sex Panther cologne, is just enough of a narrative framework for Broken Lizard to make mischief. From a dream sequence with one of the stars of American Pie (another college staple – at least for me) to an ill-timed Stephen Hawking joke, Super Troopers 2 doesn’t raise the bar in terms of shenanigans. Actually, a running gag involving Thorny plays like a retread of situations we’ve seen on TV sitcoms and in other movies.
The comedy’s hit-or-miss ratio relies heavily on jokes about Canada. Surprisingly, some of the best bits come from the three Mounties played by Tyler Labine (Tucker & Dale vs. Evil), Will Sasso (MADtv), and Hayes MacArthur (Angie Tribeca). Whether pulling their own chicanery on the imbecilic Americans or arguing over the career of Danny DeVito, they hold their own.
Having read up on how Super Troopers 2 was put into production, I have to commend Broken Lizard and its service to the fans. The sequel doesn’t rely on making too many callbacks to the original, instead choosing jokes that will work for die-hards and the unfamiliar. The ribald humor is best for those who love Super Troopers and have probably tried to order a liter of soda or chug a bottle of maple syrup.
If you are a fan the best advice is to see it right meow.
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar Writer(s): Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske Notable Cast: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Brian Cox, Lynda Carter, Rob Lowe Running Time: 100 Minutes
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!