Monday, April 30, 2018

Super Troopers 2 / **½ (R)

Fox Searchlight
Mac: Steve Lemme
Rabbit: Erik Stolhanske
Thorny: Jay Chandrasekhar
Foster: Paul Soter
Farva: Kevin Heffernan
Captain O’Hagan: Brian Cox
Genevieve Aubois: Emmanuelle Chriqui
Guy LeFranc: Rob Lowe
Mountie Podien: Hayes MacArthur
Mountie Bellefuille: Tyler Labine
Mountie Archambault: Will Sasso
Governor Jessman: Lynda Carter

Fox Searchlight Pictures presents a film directed by Jay Chandrasekhar. Written by Broken Lizard. Running time: 100 min. Rated R (for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug material and some graphic nudity).

For those of you waiting for the return of the dysfunctional group of Vermont State Troopers that brought the comedic crew of Broken Lizard into the modern lexicon, the wait is finally over. And what a wait it was. In fact until April 20th was close enough for everyone to start making social media memes alluding to getting high but never outright saying it, I’d forgotten all together that the planned follow up to the 2001 cult comedy hit Super Troopers was even coming. In fact, it’s been almost ten years since the comedy troupes’ last feature all together.

I was a fan of their work, and it feels like I should add “back in the day” to that statement. I thought Super Troopers was some kind of stupid comedy genius, and I was a huge fan of their 2006 movie Beerfest as well. Club Dread (2004) and The Slammin’ Salmon (2009) didn’t have quite the cleverness of the other two though. I’ve missed their conversational comedic style and hope it won’t be as long before they come out with more original work. Unfortunately, there does seem to be a slight staleness to the Super Troopers universe.

When the action opens, the crew are no longer State Troopers because of the events in the first movie. They are also no longer local PD because of an incident involving Fred Savage that apparently resulted in the Wonder Years actor’s death. For most of the film, I thought this was something that had happened in the end credits of the first movie and had forgotten about, but stick around for a credit cookie in the new movie for clarification.  Through a highly improbable discovery that the Canadian border of Vermont was improperly marked, the crew is asked to return to State Trooper service to act as the transition law enforcement team in one Canadian town as it is assimilated into U.S. territory. This opens the gates for a litany of jokes about the differences between our seemingly too kind neighbors and our rude American habits.

The conversational nature of the comedy here is one of the best aspects of the movie. The first scene of the movie is a dream sequence involving the deaths of everybody in the group that is being explained by one of the crew to another in very much the way that work place buddies would interact with each other. It isn’t surprising to learn that the Broken Lizard crew, made up of director Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Hefferman, Steve Lemme, Erik Stolhanske, and Paul Soter, became friends in college and formed an improv group. They write all their movies together under the name Broken Lizard. Most of their jokes are delivered in much the same way best friends joke around with each other on a daily basis. Their familiarity and ease with each other and the comedic material they’re wielding is very inclusionary for the audience, allowing us to feel like we’re all in on the joke.

The venerated actor Brian Cox, from many movies where he plays much more serious roles, returns as the crew’s mentor and captain. Once they’ve taken up residence in their new Trooper headquarters amongst the soon-to-be-American Canadians, they find themselves pitted against a trio of Canadian Mounties, who aren’t all that keen on giving up their posts to brash Americans. This leads to several quite humorous confrontations involving a bear in the Americans’ HQ, an ambush by the Americans interrupting the sanctity of a hockey game, and finally the Americans impersonating the Mounties stopping motorists on the highway. They also find a difference in culture with the mayor, played by the ever-likeable Rob Lowe, who also happens to run one of the town’s strip clubs, an institution that will find itself in violation of Vermont law once the reallocation of land is complete.

The Broken Lizard crew is playing to its strength when they’re involved in non-plot oriented interludes. It’s when they start building a plot that the film fails. The main plot is a fairly lame scheme by one of the prominent locals to hide soon to be illegal drugs around the town to avoid having to transport them across the border later. Another local official Genevieve Aubois, played by the delightfully cute Emmanuelle Chriqui, helps the Troopers solve the drug mystery. The scheme itself is pretty simple and pretty lame. It gives the crew an excuse to make some drug jokes, which is kind of their thing, but the proceedings get bogged down in following the plot and squandering many of the jokes in sentimentality.

--> I laughed for a good portion of this comedy. I don’t doubt that Super Troopers 2 will satisfy die hard fans of Broken Lizard, however, there may only be die hard fans left. This movie won’t bring new followers into the fold. It has that feeling of trying to recapture a moment that has passed. The Broken Lizard crew and fans would be better served with new material rather than rehashing these older themes. I offer this advice to some very funny fellowsdon’t feel bound by traditional plot devices and tropes. When you’re funny, you’re funny. Being observationally funny doesn’t require formulas, just presence, and possibly a Farva for every group.

1 comment:

Amy J said...
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