Super Troopers 2, the latest film from comedy troupe Broken Lizard is a follow-up to their early-2000’s cult classic, Super Troopers (2001). This time around, the former-highway-patrolmen-turned-local cops find themselves working a variety of menial jobs to make ends meet, ranging from construction to logging, due to a deadly incident involving actor Fred Savage that resulted in their termination from the force entirely.
Almost immediately, the group is rounded up for a getaway at a cabin in the woods with their former boss, Captain O’Hagen (Brian Cox), but is surprised by Governor Jessman (Lynda Carter), and is offered work along the US/Canada border, as the United States is in the process of gaining more territory from its neighbor to the north. Success in their mission will guarantee them their jobs back, whereas failure will land them where they are at the beginning of the movie. They take the offer and agree to work alongside a group of Mounties in order to get on good terms with the soon-to-be-Americans. Over the course of the film, the group finds a cache of contraband, and Broken Lizard’s typical brand of hilarity and insanity ensues.
Although the film did well enough for the filmmakers to deem it a success, and allegedly embark on making yet another installment in the franchise, it is not without its flaws. Being released on 4/20 and then being made available almost instantly for home video absolutely ensured the filmmakers knew their audience, but it also signaled that they were well aware of how poor it would perform in a basic commercial release in theaters. Certainly, the amount of time between the two movies does not help matters. In fact, this was enough of a concern for studio heads, that they refused to fund the project, making the filmmakers rely on crowdfunding to finance the venture. As a result, there is a decent amount of ham-fisted exposition and an unnecessary fantasy sequence in the beginning that not only confuses audiences but comes off as slightly insulting for assuming lack of familiarity.
Granted, this normally would be justifiable, but given the cult status of Broken Lizard’s movies, and the fact that fans have been demanding a sequel for a good while, it could have been assumed that viewers would have an idea of what’s going on. Not to mention, that while it’s important to know a little bit about how the characters ended up where they did, the narratives are totally separate, and one is left with the feeling that this movie is incapable of standing on its own without an exhausting amount of references or callbacks to the first one.
In regard to the directing and acting, those were the strongest elements of the film. Jay Chandrasekhar juggles his usual role as director/principal actor, embodying his character quite well. The only member of the principal cast that seemed problematic was Kevin Heffernan as Trooper Farva—he was just a little too over-the-top, and seemed to be playing a poor caricature, made even more insufferable by being made even more insensitive for the times we live in. The rest of the troopers (Mac, Rabbit, and Foster) have more balanced roles in the film. They definitely come off as the most well-developed characters, as a result of not relying on anti-PC rhetoric/attitude or some stereotype, and actually having arcs, but it’s not a complement to the film overall to only have the main characters be fleshed out.
As far as the Mounties were concerned, their performances were decent at best. Not that the actors in the roles were subpar, but once again, their roles were underwritten parts that did a disservice to the actors embodying them. The Mounties managed to have quite a comedic rapport established amongst themselves that tended to wane anytime the Super Troopers shared a scene with them, and almost no comedic rapport when in more “ensemble scenes.” I’m a big fan of all of the actors, particularly Tyler Labine as Mountie Christophe Bellefuille, because I love him in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010), but even he can’t help me like this movie any more than I already do.
Otherwise, everyone else’s performances seem to complement the overall film nicely, all things considered, with the audience being treated to a pretty funny performance by Rob Lowe as a Canadian mayor. Granted, as of late, most of Rob Lowe’s performances seem to be pretty homogenous, as if he’s playing different facets of the same character because he’s a “goofy” actor now, but I view that as more of a criticism of his recent acting abilities, and not a weakness of the character he played.
Aside from comedy, there is suspense, intrigue, sentimentality, drama, and even romance. A very imbalanced movie, with the writing being the most egregious component of it. Sure, stoner comedies are supposed to be zany, but not to the point that such zaniness lends itself towards said film’s detriment. Especially when the film is attempting to uphold a standard or legacy like this one. Definitely no memorable moments like the opening of the original, unfortunately. I would’ve preferred a totally new idea, or even Potfest/Weedfest. This movie has its moments, but it’s not really worthy of a second viewing, nor would unfamiliar audience members find the humor compelling enough to keep watching.
Not to mention that the whole Fred Savage bit is a bit played out. Having the incident being constantly referenced will have one racking their memory or checking the Wikipedia page of the first movie to potentially remember anything along those lines happening. The incident is exclusive to the story of the sequel, but not really worth the inside jokes over the course of the film, with a horrible payoff. Yes, there is a scene with the real Fred Savage, who is researching a role and gets too heroic and ultimately gets himself killed in an absurd and horrific manner, but it’s without substance. Just a way to not leave stoned brains totally confused, and to get some last minute cheap laughs out of a desperate audience. Check it out if you’re a fan, but don’t expect too much from it.