Super Troopers is a movie I thoroughly enjoyed the first time, and I would eagerly go back to see it again to relive some of its best moments. That said, if I did indeed decide to make a trip back to the theater for a second viewing, I would make sure that I did not take a piss for a solid three days prior to my arrival so I could have a reason to leave the theater on the equal amount of occasions that this movie produces tired jokes and dumb situations. In fact, I’d probably save a big old deuce for a particularly crappy scene toward the end of the film involving the Governor of Vermont and the War on Drugs. (Yes, that may sound like a funny premise, but the scene ends up falling flat). It would suck if I misgauged and had to go to the bathroom too much, though, because when this movie’s on, it’s really on. The four people in the theatre filled it with almost continuous laughter.
The Super Troopers are a group of highway patrol officers stationed on a stretch of road in upstate Vermont. They consist of Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar), Mac (Steve Lemme), Foster (Paul Soter), Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske), and Farva (Kevin Heffernan). Because their jobs do not naturally yield much excitement due to their area’s low crime rate, they decide to spice up their time on duty by playing gags on anyone they pull over. Thorny, Mac, and Foster are seasoned veterans of messing with the minds of their victims, while Rabbit is the lowly rookie who just joined the force and is learning the ropes of how to be an asshole. Farva, on indefinite suspension for using brute force in a school bus incident that takes place prior to the film’s start, sits in the station communicating to the guys via radio and looking up any information they call out in the heat of duty.
However, it starts to become noticeable that not much real work is getting done in the Super Troopers’ neck of the woods. When it is announced that, because of budget constraints, one branch of law enforcement may be shut down, the pressure is on to start making some legitimate arrests to save their admired boss, Captain O’Hagan (Brian Cox), as well as their own jobs.
This sets up a fierce rivalry between the highway patrol officers and the “locals,” the city police of Spurbury, VT, when both forces stumble upon a Winnebago containing a dead girl and a huge stash of marijuana. Whichever side ends up making the big arrests could ultimately decide which branch gets to stay on board and which one gets the axe.
Broken Lizard is the evolved name of the sketch comedy group these five guys formed back in the golden year of 1989 while students at Colgate University. They initially started off as Charred Goosebeak, but thankfully in the process of changing their name they were clearly careful not to lose sight of the emphasis placed on harming animals. Chandrasekhar founded the comedy group, and currently serves as the group’s director, as well as the director of this film. Mind you, this is all Chandrasekhar’s version of how the group came to be. Stolhanske gives a much different account of how they all started as freedom fighters in Sierra Leone and formed a comedy group to combat all the tragedy they saw. I didn’t make that up. I’m pretty sure he did, though, especially since he’s a comedian. If not, I’m definitely a heinous, insensitive bastard.
The script was collectively written by the members of Broken Lizard. This makes me wonder why they wrote lots of unfunny jokes for themselves. I suppose the answer to this is that they clearly find them funny, except that they show such talent for creating brilliant humor in so many other parts of the film that it seems like slapstick and fart jokes would strike them as out of place in a script as good as this one.
Broken Lizard claimed in an interview that they set out to write the script with no preconceived notions of which character each man would play. I’m guessing they figured out which roles they fit into fairly early on, however, as evidenced by the vast pool of ethnic jokes directed at Thorny, who is not white, and all the fat jokes made about Farva, who is fat. In addition to being fat, Farva is also the butt of most of the other trooper’s jokes.
At 103 minutes, the film is not long by industry standards, but about 15 minutes too long for its own good. Super Troopers main flaw is that it takes too long in establishing the premises for its jokes by taking its own ridiculous plot too seriously. This is a common problem in recent comedies — writers always feel like they have to work in a love story or a feel-good moral lesson. These additions never turn out to be funny — in fact, they’re never supposed to be funny. This film would benefit by forgetting what it’s “supposed” to do and just allowing its main characters have fun.
There’s no reason to keep reinforcing the likeability of these characters. And trying to make us actually care about their personal lives in a film like this is unnecessary, not to mention futile. Why do we need to see Foster’s crush on local cop Ursula (Marisa Coughlan) progress through the stages of initially being rejected, to finally reciprocating some flirtation, to banging her in the back of a cop car, to doing something that pisses her off for a while, to ultimately becoming a full-fledged mack again? Just as that sentence took up a helluva lot of this paragraph, all that extraneous storyline crap similarly takes up way too much time in the movie, time that could be focused on funny.
Whatever. The hilarious parts of this movie are far better than anything you’ve seen recently, unless, of course, you’ve been cheating and renting older movies. Even if you’ve been doing that, though, the best scenes from this movie certainly rival some of the great comedies, and even the mildly unfunny parts are funnier than, say, Requiem for a Dream. And Requiem for a Dream was considered by many people to be a great film.