‘Super Troopers 2’ Brings Back Cult Stoner Comedy for a Canadian Romp
“Super Troopers 2” defines throwback. 16 years after its predecessor premiered in theaters, it is practically oblivious to the passage of time. The Broken Lizard comedy team brings back the zaney group of Vermont troopers, who gained a cult following through their antics and toilet humor, picking up the story right where the last movie left off. There are a few updates in the style of the jokes, and this movie has more of a satirical edge in some areas than the first one. But in the end this is a film made up almost entirely of gags that repeat the same punchline over and over. It’s a total riot in the opening scenes before turning into the cinematic equivalent of the drunk friend at the party who gets stuck on a loop.
After a hilariously rowdy opening involving a rock band getting pulled over in their party bus, we are reunited with the wild gang of former Vermont highway troopers composed of Mac (Steve Lemme), Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske), Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar), Foster (Paul Soter), and the demented Farva (Kevin Heffernan). After being fired in the last movie, the troupe are now doing construction for a living. Actually, they had joined the local police department but were fired once more after causing the tragic death of Fred Savage. While sitting around a construction site, they’re called in by their former captain, O’Hagan (Brian Cox) with some news. It turns out research has discovered the borderlines separating the United States and Canada are not entirely accurate. Now a Canadian town at the border will be incorporated into the United States. To ensure a smooth transition, Governor Jessman (Lynda Carter) is re-hiring O’Hagan and the guys as troopers because of their experience. As soon as they are back in uniform however, they are confronted by hostile Canadians not too keen on becoming Americans. The local Mounties turn everything into a cock fight and the mayor of the town, the brothel-owning Guy Le Franc (Rob Lowe), isn’t much help. But when the troopers come across a cache of smuggled pills and other drugs, they start snooping around to see what’s really going on.
You almost want to give “Super Troopers 2” a pass based on its first act. Chandrasekhar is back as director, with a screenplay written by him and fellow Broken Lizard members Heffernan, Lemme, Soter and Stolhanske. They essentially aim to recapture some of that unhinged, beer-chugging humor that was in vogue in the 2000s along with shows like “Jackass” and “South Park.” The music score is by Eagles of Death Metal, who have no time for current pop soundtrack trends, instead bringing back a frenetic guitar vibe. Fans of the first movie will be delighted that the characters have visually not changed at all, to the point where Thorny looks as if he defies the aging process itself. But if the first movie was essentially plotless, with the exception of another contraband storyline, this one attempts at having a running theme. In yet another throwback to an earlier decade, the main thread is cheerful mocking of Canada, and perceived Canadian views of Americans.
When the comedy centers on this theme in the beginning it is quite funny, especially when the script includes some acidic lines of cultural satire. In one scene the troopers mock the Canadian Mounties over their country taking longer to declare independence, the Mounties reply that if Canada had become independent sooner, “we would all grow up not believing in evolution, being morbidly obese and without healthcare.” The Mounties are played with great zest by Tyler Labine and Hayes MacArthur, who take the farcical interpretation of French accents to a whole other level. Farva becomes a mascot for macho American patriotism, demanding during a town meeting that everyone better start learning the Star-Spangled Banner. When the other troopers find Cuban cigars in the contraband he refuses to smoke one because as far as he’s concerned, he’s not going to cater to Castro. At a tavern he orders “Schlitz, that’s American for beer.” In one scene Guy Le Franc threatens to call “my friend, Justin Trudeau.”
Because “Super Troopers 2” doesn’t try to expand much on its world or sense of humor, when it abandons the satire for just pure gags it quickly becomes stale. The second and third acts feel like one long skit that never rises above just being another stoner comedy. Even then, nothing here approaches the hilarity of the first movie’s opening scene when a nervous kid in a pulled over car munches down an entire bag of weed. Farva gets electrocuted, Rabbit gets his crotch shaved, everyone gets super high on some colorful contraband and Thorny gets hooked on female hormone pills (which are the basis for some jokes that might not be so funny for its current audience). It will be interesting to see how a more politically correct crowd will take jokes like, “now it smells like Bombay.” It was disappointing to see local cop Ursula (Marisa Coughlan), return briefly for about two scenes and then disappear, despite the fact that her character is still together with Foster. The romantic interest here is between Rabbit and the French cultural liason, Genevieve Aubois (Emmanuelle Chriqui), whose sole purpose is to walk around looking like everyone’s idea of a hot French lady.
This is a sequel that also lacks some of the more energetic touches of its predecessor. There are no funny little farces like troopers chugging maple syrup bottles, and the soundtrack doesn’t have that many songs. “Super Troopers” was always trash, and it knew it was trash and so it had a quirky, wild abandon to its attitude. “Super Troopers 2” feels more like a calculated stoner comedy. By the end credits it completely runs out of gas. The way the “plot” unravels is so vague and rushed that you wonder why it was even necessary.
Maybe only super fans of “Super Troopers” will fully bask in the sequel. It begins with a funny first act, but then has no idea where to go. It zig-zags from jokes that fall flat to a few sketches that are actually very funny, but it needs a more coherent form. Broken Lizard forget that not everyone in the theater will be stoned. Then, again, maybe that’s the point.
“Super Troopers 2” opens April 20 in theaters nationwide.