Super Troopers 2 (2018) Review
THE MUSTACHES RIDE AGAIN
Back in 2001, the comedian group of guys who went by the stage name of “Broken Lizard” released their sophomore feature length film Super Troopers. The movie, which was directed by Broken Lizard member Jay Chandrasekhar and written by group, followed the misadventures of five highway patrol troopers who, through crazy angst and comedic gags, undercover a drug smuggling operation in their Vermont town. The movie itself is choke full of humorous bit, finding Broken Lizard’s comedic spread throughout the entire movie, producing a film endeavor that’s a vehicle playground for the group of longtime comedian friends as highway police officers. While Super Troopers only made a very mild splash during its box office run, which is not bad considering the movie made roughly $23 million against its $ 3 million production budget) as well as facing mixed reviews from critics, the movie itself found its popularity on home release. From there, the movie gained a cult-following with many adolescent teens and college adults finding their comedic style of Broken Lizard’s Super Troopers to their liking. While Broken Lizard did go on to create another feature films, including Club Dread in 2004 and Beerfest in 2006, the films themselves didn’t have the same cult-following fanbase as did Super Troopers has achieved. Now, almost seventeen years since Super Troopers was released, Fox Searchlight Pictures and director Jay Chandrasekhar present the long-awaited sequel to the 2001 film with the movie Super Troopers 2. Do guys of Broken Lizard find their comedic groove within this belated sequel or has the current age of moviegoers / viewers grown up and moved away from the comedy styles of this group?
Having lost their position in the Spurberry Police Department, Arcot “Thorny” Ramathorn (Jay Chandrasekhar), Robert “Rabbit” Roto (Erik Stolhanske), Jeff Foster (Paul Soter), MacIntyre “Mac” Womack (Steve Lemme), and Rodney “Rod” Farva (Kevin Heffernan) are stuck in the housing construction market to make ends meet, looking forward to a fishing vacation with their old highway patrol captain, John O’Hagen (Brian Cox). However, upon arriving at their fishing leisure destination in Canada, Vermont Governor Jessman (Lynda Carter) reveals to the group that a Canadian border town (St. George Du Laurent) is about to turned over as an American territory, requiring the guys to suit up again as Vermont highway troopers and bring a bit of U.S. law and order to the north. Welcoming the team to the town is a mayor / ex-hockey legend, Guy Le Franc (Rob Lowe) as well as the town’s three Canadian Mounties Archambault (Will Sasso), Podien (Hayes MacArthur), and Bellefuille (Tyler Labine), who have no patience for catering to the crude American law enforcers. As the gang settles in (working to make sense their Canadian customs and math), the troopers soon find soon have trouble on their hands when they discover crates of drugs, weapons, and knock-off merchandise around the town, trying to locate the source of the illegal shipments as they dodge the community animosity of St. George Du Laurent.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
Oh, my…I remember seeing Super Troopers. Of course, I was 15 years old at the time of its release (a sophomore in high school), so I didn’t see the movie in theaters. To be honest, one of my best friends in high school showed me this movie (when it got released on home video release) and I died laughing when I saw it. There were so many hilarious jokes and gags and I could see why it had such a big cult-following. The movie itself is definitely quotable (i.e. the whole “Meow” bit is one of my favorites) and the five guys that make up Broken Lizard are indeed hilarious in their Super Troopers characters. I did like Broken Lizard’s Beerfest, finding this other comedic adventure into the underground world of beer-drinking competition, especially with the entire group of guys playing their respective parts in the movie. Basically, if you haven’t seeing Beerfest and loved Super Troopers, you like it and it’s something I do recommend to those who haven’t. I do remember briefly seeing most of Broken Lizard’s Club Dread, but that had a bit more dark tone (if I can remember correctly) than Super Troopers and Beerfest. I might have to rewatch Club Dread sometime soon. Still, all three of these movies prove that this group of guys (i.e. Broken Lizard) has proven that their comedy angsts have the staying power towards its cult-following fan base than some other high-profile actors and / or films in Hollywood. At least, I think so.
Naturally, this brings me back around to Super Troopers 2, the latest film that this group has to offer. As I stated, the original 2001 film wasn’t as smash hit at the box office, but its fanbase gained a quite a cult-following, which prompted the idea to create a follow-up film sometime soon. Unfortunately, the road to getting Super Troopers 2 off the ground has been indeed a “bumpy road”. While there was talk of a sequel to Super Troopers dating all the way back from 2009 (the film’s initial script was completed and submitted in November 2009), the movie, which acquired studio permission to greenlight a sequel, couldn’t quite get the funding it need to make it to production. Thus, seeing the profitability and the usage of recent crowdfunding campaigns (in a wide array of funded projects), Broken Lizard initiated their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in March 2015, asking for two million dollars in contributions to get Super Troopers 2’s production budget. Interestingly or rather more surprisingly, fans of the either Broken Lizard and / or Super Troopers took to the internet and reached the goal two million dollars within 26 hours after the window opened. Still, even more contributions funds were given to Broken Lizard even after their initial goal was met (roughly $4.4 million raised), proving that the fanbase to make Super Troopers 2 a reality was indeed a palpable one (never underestimate the power of a fans).
So, with its funds secured, Broken Lizard began production on the project in late 2015 and with post-production being completed in summer of 2017. Beyond the initial crowdfunding campaign announcement, I didn’t hear much via internet until the released the film’s movie trailers online. Of course, the trailers peaked my interest, especially since I loved the original Super Troopers and it was a film that I was looking forward to seeing in spring of 2018. I did actually get to see the movie as a double feature during its opening night, with the first Super Troopers movie being shown before the new 2018 sequel. Thus, all the characters and jokes were all very fresh in my mind. So, what did I think of it? Was it worth the 17 year wait? Well, to me, I actually liked it. While there were a few problems, Super Troopers 2 is indeed a fun and goofy comedy sequel that definitely keeps up the appearances and appeal from the original movie. Basically, if you liked the first one, you’ll definitely like this belated sequel.
Much like the rest of the Broken Lizard movies, Super Troopers 2 sees actor / director Jay Chandrasekhar helming the project. To be honest, Chandrasekhar seems like a perfect choice for this role, especially since it’s a sequel to one of his more famous films he’s done (both in front and behind the camera). Much like the group itself, Chandrasekhar has seeing growth in his directorial ability, with his work (as a director) on several other projects; most of which TV episodes for such shows like New Girl, The Goldbergs, Royal Pains, Community, and Chuck. Thus, his directing credibility has more credence than it did back when he directed Super Troopers back in 2001, finding this sequel to be more refined and pacing and timing than the previous film. Additionally, the film also written by the entire Broken Lizard gang, which gives the group of comedians plenty of room to grow and find their particular groove within the context of the film’s story. Speaking of the movie’s story / plot, it is a bit silly and not much to it (more on that below), but neither did I really expect it to be. To be honest, it’s sort of a good thing as Chandrasekhar (and the rest of the gang) never make Super Troopers 2 fall into the pitfalls of a the classic “sequel” movie scenario (i.e. going bigger, darker, and more complexed). Super Troopers 2 is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is the same silliness, goofy angst, and crass humor of that of the first one, but just more finely tuned and tweaked in various parts. As for the film’s humor, it’s pretty good. Like I said, if you liked the comedy in the first one, you’ll like it in this sequel. Once again, the jokes and gags revolve around drugs, alcohol, sex, nudity, and explicit language as well as the back-and-forth banner of making fun of US and Canada (which are pretty funny in the movie). Additionally, Chandrasekhar never gets side tracked or bogged down in unwanted filler sub-plots, keeping the film moving at a brisk pace (the movies runtime is only 100 minutes long). All in all, Super Troopers 2 doesn’t go beyond what’s coming before (i.e. doesn’t go beyond its own parameters), but it doesn’t necessarily need “go big or go home”, with Chandrasekhar and the rest of the guys finding better timing working within a smaller-based adventure and their plethora of R-rated raunchy gags. Personally, I laughed a ton in this movie and there are plenty of “laugh out loud” moments. However, much like a lot of comedy movies out there, it all depends on what tickles your funny bone.
In terms of production / presentation, Super Troopers 2 is your standard comedy feature. As I’ve stated before (especially within the context of similar films), these types of movies usually don’t go overboard and / or particularly go into great detail of the technical qualities of filmmaking. That’s not saying that Super Troopers 2 is a terrible made feature, but it’s not striving for any cinematic nominations in this upcoming award season for its merits in cinematography or hair / make up. Thus, I really don’t judge hard on the technical / filmmaking presentation. That being said, the film’s overall presentation, ranging from production design (Cabot McMullen), film editing (Spencer Houck), costume design (Debra McGuire), and cinematography (Joe Collins) is solid to meet the industry standard for a modern comedy film. Its neither looking to be great nor is it terrible….and (again) that’s not a bad thing as it’s filmmaking presentation is even keel, which is fine.
There are a few problems that I had with Super Troopers 2 that even I, a fan of the first film, couldn’t overlook. Perhaps the most notable one is the belated timetable of which this movie is being released. Like I said above, I was a sophomore in high school (15 years old) when the original film was theatrically released and now (currently of when I’m writing this review) I’m 32 years old. Even by industry standards that a pretty long time for a movie sequel to finally materialize. Thus, Super Troopers 2 overall impact is slightly deflated due to overtly long delay between movies. Another problem is the film’s plot is very flimsy and loose. Of course, I was expecting any type of grandiose narrative plot / conflict to unfold in a movie like this, but even the plot in the original Super Troopers was a bit better than this one. While the story’s plot is, more or less, just a silly tool to create a significant event to bring the “gang” back together as well as some wacky shenanigans / scenarios, it could’ve been a more thought out.
Additionally, another problem I had with this movie were some of the jokes that carried over from the first film. As to be expected, some of the more humorous comedy jokes and gags from Super Troopers (the ones that fans usually quote often) get a reprise in this sequel, updating and tweaking them slightly for this 2018 motion picture. Unfortunately, some of these comedic jabs have lost their punch over the years and don’t probably land well, completely missing their mark and fall with a thud. Like a lot of comedy movies out there, not every humorous line of dialogue is written in “comedic gold”. The new material of jokes and gags in Super Troopers 2 are quite funny and the Broken Lizard gang could’ve used more of those in the film instead of rehashing some tired and mediocre ones. Lastly, the film’s ending is left a bit inconclusive. Again, I wasn’t expecting The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King 10-minute epilogue type of ending in the movie, but I kind of wanted more closure for this group of characters, especially if you think about if Super Troopers 2 is going to be second (and final) installment of this comedy franchise or if another one will be developed in the distant future.
One of the successful reasons on how Super Troopers worked so well (within the film and in its fanbase) is the actual Broken Lizard group of guys and how their overall camaraderie with each other is a strong attribute in making their comedic banter work so well. Naturally, the talents of actors Jay Chandrasekhar as Senior veteran / second-in-command of the barracks Arcot “Thorny” Ramathorn, Erik Stolhanske as the still young rookie Robert “Rabbit” Roto, Paul Soter as the more calm and reserved trooper of the group Jeff Foster, Steve Lemme as resident prankster trooper MacIntyre “Mac” Womack, and Kevin Heffernan as the loud and obnoxiously outspoken trooper Rodney “Rod” Farva. Again, while of most of these actors haven’t been in much (a few directorial positions and a few parts in an episode or two in television series), the Broken Lizard gang works well together, playing off their comedic bits with each other in an effortless ease. Much like their other projects together, it’s clear that each one is having fun onset (as it shows in their on-screen performances) and camaraderie is definitely one of the film’s best strongest positives. Beyond the five members of Broken Lizard, several characters from the first Super Troopers film return to reprise their roles, including actor Brian Cox (X2: X-Men United and Troy) as the commander of the Vermont State Troopers Squad Captain John O’Hagen, actress Marisa Coughlan (Boston Legal and Pumpkin) as police Officer Ursula Hanson, and actress Lynda Carter (The Dukes of Hazzard and Wonder Woman) as Vermont Governor Jessman. While Carter’s character is more of a fun cameo (like the first movie), Cox’s O’Hagen is hilarious in his return in Super Troopers 2, fitting exactly well into returning with the rest of the Broken Lizard gang. As for Coughlan’s Ursula, she probably the most underutilized side character in the feature (wish she was in more of the film).
There are a few new cast members that join the Broken Lizard gang in Super Troopers 2 and their addition to this R-rated comedy feature film is a welcomed one, even if their characters aren’t quite fleshed out as much as they should be. Perhaps the most prominent one of the groups is the character of Guy Le Franc, a former Canadian hockey player and current mayor for St. George Du Laurent, who is played by actor Rob Lowe (Parks and Recreation and Brothers & Sisters). Interestingly, Lowe unabashedly has fun in his role of Le Franc, joining in some of the more goofball risqué humor with gleeful ease. Lowe’s Le Franc wouldn’t go down as his best role in his career (not by a long shot), but he is quite amusing in the role and within Super Troopers 2, especially with his fake Canadian accent.
Behind Lowe are actors Will Sasso (MADtv and The Three Stooges), Hayes MacArthur (She’s Out of My League and Life as We Know It), and Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and The Boss), who plays the Canadian Mounties Archambault, Podien, and Bellefuille. These three aren’t exactly well-defined, but, much like the Broken Lizard gang, they’re quite amusing and acts as rivals to the main characters (something akin to a turf war judication). Plus, Sasso, MacArthur, and Labine are quite good actors and handled themselves well (i.e. one particular scene that just involves them talking about actor Danny DeVito is hilarious). Behind those three is actress Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan), who plays Genevieve Aubois, a French / Canadian attaché focused on the relations with the US. While I do love Chriqui and her acting is fine (she shares a semi-romantic connection with one of the guys), her character of Genevieve isn’t the most well-rounded and is mostly in the movie for “eye candy” and to further the plot in certain parts. Still, much Lowe and the rest of the new cast members, her addition in Super Troopers 2 is a fun one. Lastly, actors Sean William Scott (American Pie and Dude, Where is My Car?), Damon Wayans Jr. (Let’s Be Cops and New Girl), and Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld and Traffic) appear in the film as small almost cameo-like appearances. Their involvement isn’t essential to the film main narrative thread, but it’s funny to see these three grace the screen in Super Troopers 2.
Mac, Rabbit, Thorny, Foster and Farva are back and hitting the highway road again, facing new Canadian hostiles and crazy shenanigans in Super Troopers 2. Director Jay Chandrasekhar latest film sees the return of the entire Broken Lizard for a whole new adventure in their Super Troopers personas, facing new problems and getting ready to assume a patrol in now recently USA / Canadian territory. While there are a few problems with the movie (as I’m sure some will find other reasons), the film itself is exactly what a viewer would expect, finding the crass / goofball humor and gags returning with a vengeance (in a good way) as well as the main cast members and cameo-like appearance of the supporting characters both new and old. To me, I personally liked it. It was great to see the group back together again (both in the actors of Broken Lizard and in their respective Super Trooper characters) and I did laugh a lot throughout the film. Again, it was exactly what I expected the movie to be, no more…no less. Thus, I would give this movie my “recommended” stamp of approval (for the fans of the original film out there) as well as an “iffy-choice”, for those casual moviegoers out there. However, I hardly doubt that causal moviegoers will see a movie like this without being (let alone seeing) the original 2001 film. In the end, Super Troopers 2 is a solid R-rated comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, filling its runtime with its classic (and hilarious) humor from start to finish that only the Broken Lizard guys could pull off. Let’s just hope that Super Troopers 3 emerges sometime soon or at least much sooner than Super Troopers 2. I don’t know wanna be 49 years old when the third installment comes out. I know, I know… I just better stop this ranting right “meow”. Come on, guys, you knew I had to say that….
3.9 Out of 5 (Recommended / Iffy-Choice)
Released On: April 20th, 2018
Reviewed On: April 20th, 2018
Super Troopers 2 is 100 minutes long and is rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug material, and some graphic nudity