Seventeen years ago, with only one low budget movie under their belts, a comedy troupe formed at Colgate University made what would become one of the biggest cult hits of the decade, and fuelling their movie careers to the present day. This troupe is of course Broken Lizard, and their cult hit Super Troopers. The 2001 comedy about a group of meddlesome Vermont state troopers struck such a cord with fans, that Jay Chanrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske, the five members of Broken Lizard, were able to continue making their brand of comedy with another three films through to 2009. Back from a hiatus of sorts lasting almost a decade (the five did appear together in movies not of their making), Broken Lizard is returning to the screen with the long awaited sequel to their greatest hit. However, as longed-for a movie as it may be, Super Troopers 2 very nearly remained nothing but a wishful thought. After years of fruitless efforts trying to get the project of the ground with the promise that there was an audience out there wanting to see the zany cops return, in 2015 Broken Lizard finally secured the rights to shoot the sequel, but not the funding to see it through. One condition to relinquishing the rights was that the studio demanded that Broken Lizard secure funding on their own, with evidently not much confidence in the project. Not to have come that far and turn back, the five members of the troupe created a crowd funding page and set the minimum needed to get the project off the ground at what could have been thought of as a lofty two million dollars. However, history was written when this number was made in a record breaking 26 hours, thus proving the fact once and for all that not only were there many fans out there, but they were all hungry for more. After finally being realized, Super Troopers 2, in the broadest sense, is most certainly a product of its conditions but achieves exactly what it sets out to do. It’s low budget fan service. And for longtime fans in need of that servicing, while it certainly won’t blow your mind, Super Troopers 2 should at least put a smile on your face from time to time.
As simplistic and obvious stating as the claim may be, the most important thing about the sequel is that all five Broken Lizard members are back together once again (along with Brian Cox as grumpy old police captain O’Hagan). Even the most die hard fans would have to admit that what resonates the most about the troupe’s filmography is not their ground-breaking jokes or gags (certainly not to say that they haven’t written a few of them in their time), but simply the chemistry that the obvious longtime friends have with one another. This was particularly true with the first Super Troopers, and again is what allowed all five to enjoy a career making movies. Despite the fact that they’re trying much harder this time round, and the desperation is unarguably up there on screen, the charm emanated from Jay, Kevin, Steve, Paul and Erik playing off each other is enough, albeit if only just, to make the years-long struggle of getting the movie made worth it.
For us fans north of the boarder the movie may resonate on a personal level as well, as it’s basically a feature length feud between Canada and the US. When a boarder survey reveals the fact that a small town in Quebec is actually located on US soil, the ‘Super Troopers’ are brought in as the new police force. Most of the comedy stems from the conflict between this new force and the once Canadian citizens they’re now policing, as well as the Mounties they’re fazing out. Unfortunately, a lot of the jokes that stem from this juxtaposition are of the tired variety that you’ve heard time and again, never seeming to grow old over what seems like a hundred years of pop culture. The French Canadian characters are dialed up to such a cartoonish level that they transcend comedy and veer into ridicule (when you see Will Saso on screen this will become more than evident). However, full credit to Broken Lizard as they do introduce quite a fair bit of new material in the Canada/US department. Case in point, one of the Canadian jabs centers on the mayor of the once Canadian town owning a brothel. Admittedly, while watching, the joke flew over my head, but after some post viewing research I learned that prostitution, in certain regards, is completely legal in Canada. Congratulations Super Troopers 2, you taught me something about my country I didn’t know. Furthermore, in a nice twist of perspectives, the playing field is more than evened with some witty US bashing to level things out.
There’s a great bit when officer Foster (Paul Soter) uncovers a stash of AK-48s, giddily enamored with his find as, while allowed in Canada, the gun is illegal in the US because it holds one extra bullet than its traditional cousin. Super Troopers 2 takes a similar ‘machine gun’ approach, peppering the audience with joke after joke after joke. Unfortunately, about four out of five of these miss the mark. Fortunately, the fifth one is usually enough to make you remember exactly why you waited so long for Super Troopers 2 to become a reality.
Fox Searchlight releases Super Troopers 2 in theatres on Friday, April 20, 2018