Another hit from the bong
So Super Troopers was a decent comedy back in the forgotten era of 2002; and much like its contemporary in Zoolander, it made a lot of money on a paper thin budget with extra sales on DVD and VHS (yes, it’s THAT old). Despite the fact that the comedy troupe behind the cult hit, Broken Lizard, went on to produce better films like Beerfest and Club Dread, a sequel to Super Troopers was usually requested. Now, given the fact that Zoolander 2, a sequel to a film that came out around the same time as Broken Lizard’s opus, was utter dogshit; my hopes weren’t high (pun not intended) that Super Troopers 2 wouldn’t be absolute torture. Can Broken Lizard save itself from Ben Stiller-style irrelevance or is this another sequel that’s too little, WAY too damn late? Let’s discuss…
So the irreverent Vermont highway patrol consisting of Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar), Foster (Paul Soter), Mac (Steve Lemme), Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske), Favra (Kevin Hefferman) and Captain O’Hagen (Brian Cox) were fired from their jobs after an…”unfortunate” incident that killed Fred Savage. But the crew get a second chance when the governor of Vermont (Lynda Carter) reveals to them that she needs an experienced highway patrol for a small section of Canada bordering Vermont that is about to change hands to America. But the crew find themselves having a tough time connecting with the aggressive Canadian locals lead by Mayor Guy Le Franc (Rob Lowe) who don’t want their town to become American. In addition, the crew inadvertently stumble on yet ANOTHER drug smuggling operation taking place in the sleepy Canadian countryside, immediately suspicious of the local Mountie unit (Tyler Labine, Will Sasso, and Hayes MacArthur) of being guilty of the crime.
What’s odd about this sequel is that there is more of a plot to this film compared to its predecessor, which only yanked a “plot” out of its ass in the final 20 minutes. Now that first Super Troopers may have well have been a comedy sketch compilation in the vein of The Kentucky Fried Movie, before the aforementioned plot comes out of nowhere. For the sequel, things start with a plot and more or less adheres to the loosest form of a story before settling back into the shenanigans (deliberate reference) of the first movie. Now, you may be wondering why the hell am I overthinking Super Troopers 2 of all bloody things, and that’s because I fancy myself a critic. It’s practically my job to tell you why or why not a certain movie is watchable. So I go off on this angle to explain why I prefer the original movie to the sequel.
Now that being said, while this indeed is a weaker final product than Broken Lizard’s first big break into the mainstream, the sequel is at the very least watchable and does in fact provide a couple of laughs. And to their credit, they saved many of the best laughs and punchlines for the theatrical cut and only providing a slim taste of the type of comedy you’re in for in the trailer, which I can definitely appreciate. Thankfully, the jokes cover all sorts of ground from Americans vs. Canadians, extreme drug use, hormonal abuse, male nudity, pot jokes, butchering of the French language, drug jokes, metric system oddities, and…what am I missing? Oh yeah, weed jokes. Alright, so it’s mostly more of the same as the last time around. But the highlights of the film are definitely in the first five minutes and middle portion as the rivalry between the Vermont Highway Patrol and Canadian Mounties ratchets up. Downside for these two stellar moments of solid comedy is that the energy takes a noticeable dip at all other times in the production.
Now, many friends have asked why I wasn’t high as a kite before watching this cinematic experience, and my answer is simply that I’m going to judge the film on its own merits and not let outside forces affect my perception (I still regret worshiping Gravity after I saw it in 4DX with motion seats to this day). And honestly, I don’t think even the happiest of potheads could get a solid steam of laughs going during the weaker moments of the movie. They’re not bad or serious, it’s just that the jokes and situations are so…mundane compared to the first’s film ridiculousness of firing guns at a dude only protected by kevlar in his nuts or hijacking a trio of potheads mid-arrest. The first film has this manic energy about it that kept the laughs coming a joke per minute, whereas this film tries to take its time with setup or just spews insults that land with an audible thud.
However, even when the writing doesn’t reach the highs of Broken Lizard’s previous efforts, the acting is at least solid all across the board. All your favorite characters are back for round two with a couple of fun cameos courtesy of Sean William Scott and Damon Wayans, Jr. peppered throughout that kept at least a smile on my face and, more importantly, kept me distracted from the amateur production values. I bring this up as the film allegedly has a budget of $13 million (with about $4.7 million from crowdfunding) and I seriously doubt any of the bigger names asked for that much money. I mean the first Super Troopers had a shoestring budget of less than $3 million to pay everybody, perform basic stunts, and have a functional crew. Nothing in this sequel stuck out to me as expensive, so aside from theories on a money laundering scheme, I have zero idea what these guys did with their budget.
I flip flopped on whether to give this a MATINEE or a RENTAL, because I do think the movie is worth checking out for fans of the first film. But judging the film on its own merits and in the context of this creator’s own previous productions and the lackluster second and final act of the movie, I gotta give this a decent enough…
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