'Super Troopers 2': Comedy sequel stalls at the side of the road
Posted April 17, 2018 4:50 p.m. EDT
EMBARGO 12:01 A.M. APRIL 20
From the beginning, the makers of ``Super Troopers'' and ``Beerfest'' have built these politically incorrect odes to nonsense practically daring you to disapprove.
The Broken Lizard comedy group embraces the lowbrow to predictable extremes. If you see a pyramid of cans somewhere, it will be knocked down. If a taser enters the scene, it must at some point be used on someone's genitals. When the options are logic or an easy laugh, always choose the joke about the man taking drugs that make him lactate.
This approach is not aging well in ``Super Troopers 2,'' a film that looks way more fun to make than it is to watch. There's a stubbornness to the comedic approach, mostly in its unwillingness to age since the first ``Super Troopers.'' These guys are pushing 50, but they're still stuck in the juvenile characters they introduced to the big screen when Bill Clinton was leaving the presidency.
This inflexibility might have been played for laughs, or become part of the evolution of the comedy. But nobody evolves in the world of ``Super Troopers 2.'' Lynda Carter, who played the governor of Vermont in the first film, is still in office. An officer played by an actor in his late 40s is hazed as a rookie. A too-soon joke about Stephen Hawking remains in the film.
Nothing in the narrative suggests any of the writers have read the news in the 21st Century. It's as if they spent the last 17 years in a windowless room, watching the first ``Super Troopers'' over and over, before writing the new script.
``Super Troopers 2'' has the Vermont-based cops off the job, after a vague and unseen disaster involving actor Fred Savage. (The frequent callbacks, and ultimate comic payoff, is the best part of the film.) When a border error causes much of Canada to be annexed by the U.S., the Super Troopers are brought in to help with the transition.
The Canada/U.S. conflict achieves much of its promise. Comic sequences involving metric conversions hit the mark. The expected Canada jokes involving the band Rush and socialized medicine both hit. Rob Lowe is excellent as Guy Le Franc, joyfully embracing every stereotype as a brothel-loving mayor and former hockey player.
But the momentum never builds, and the second half relies on detours into repetitive slapstick and bodily function humor. The big finish is an underwhelming mess, seemingly made up as the camera was rolling. The second film basically ends where the first one did. If the world wills more ``Super Troopers'' movies, they can be watched in any order.
The sequel utilized crowdfunding, raising more than $4.5 million, and that may be fueling the sense of arrested development. The film isn't just loyal, but actually tied financially to the group's most dedicated fans. What chances were there for an artistic leap, or anything other than more of the same?
For the hard-core fans of Broken Lizard, these negative words are proof they're doing something right. There are so many outraged squares in the movie, they start to feel like stand-ins for anyone who is not laughing in the audience.
But previous films by the group (``Beerfest'' is the best place to start) seemed to welcome newcomers. ``Super Troopers 2'' feels like a private party.
Peter Hartlaub is The San Francisco Chronicle's pop culture critic.
Super Troopers 2
1 star out of 4 stars Comedy. Starring Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Sofer and Jay Chandrasekhar. Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar. (R. 100 minutes.)