The broad and cheerfully raunchy hit-and-miss ensemble comedy “Super Troopers” was panned by most critics and was only a modest success upon its release in 2001, but over the years it has shown remarkable resiliency, rolling along on the fringes of the pop culture landscape as something of a cult favorite.
Sight gags such as a maple syrup chugging contest in a breakfast diner, and silly routines such as a cop saying “meow” instead of “now” some 10 times during a traffic stop — either you forgot those routines five minutes after seeing “Super Troopers,” or you were part of the hardcore group of fans that committed scenes and quotes to memory and longed for the day when a sequel would arrive.
Well, that day is here. (And yes, the official opening date for “Super Troopers 2” is 4/20, with all its cannabis connotations.)
And while the members of the Broken Lizard comedy group retain their likability, and there’s something kind of endearing about the disjointed, throw-everything-at-the-wall, “Caddyshack” type chaos behind the comedy, there are simply too many dead spots and cheap jokes and flat gags to carry a full-length feature.
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar and written by and starring Chandresekhar and the rest of the Broken Lizard troupe, “Super Troopers 2” picks up the story a number of years after the prank-obsessed, hopelessly hapless state troopers turned local cops were summarily dismissed after an unfortunate tragedy known as “The Fred Savage Incident.” (Stick around at the close of the film for a clip showing exactly what transpired on that fateful day.)
The guys are working manual labor jobs when their old boss, Captain O’Hagan himself (Brian Cox), delivers some exciting news: They have a chance to become state troopers again!
Turns out the Vermont-Canada border was improperly defined all these years, and there’s actually a little bit more Vermont and a little less of the Quebec to the boundaries. O’Hagan and his team will take over law enforcement from the Canadian Mounties, and the French-Canadian locals will have to adjust to life as … yes, Americans.
If you think this leads to jokes about obese, arrogant, gun-loving Americans, and even more jokes about funny-talking, hockey-loving, outwardly polite but quietly resentful French-Canadians: yep. Some of the jokes are really funny. Others are so in need of help the film resorts to reaction shots of characters laughing at the proceedings, which is almost never a good sign.
Kevin Heffernan’s Farva remains the annoying, pea-brained, obnoxious comic foil. Erik Stolhanske’s Rabbit is still the target of “rookie pranks,” even though Rabbit looks to be well north of 40 by now. (Not a bad premise for a running joke, but it’s more like wheel-spinning.)
Chandrasekhar’s Thorny undergoes a drastic personality (and biological) transformation after becoming hooked on “Flova Scotia,” a pharmaceutical drug meant to enhance the female libido — but this leads to anachronistic gags in which Thorny acts like a stereotypical housewife from two generations ago: cooking meals for the guys, complaining about how nothing he does is good enough for them, throwing tantrums when he’s not appreciated.
There’s no shortage of talented supporting players joining the proceedings for this go-round. The opening sequence features two familiar comedic veterans, who dive right into the madness. (I’ll not give away the surprise.)
Will Sasso, Hayes MacArthur and Tyler Labine score some laughs as the trio of Canadian Mounties who are just as ridiculous as their American counterparts. (At one point the Mounties get into an extended discussion/debate about the career of Danny DeVito that has nothing to do with the story at hand, is actually quite funny and works as a tribute to the versatility and longevity of Mr. Danny DeVito.)
The ever-game Rob Lowe has his moments as mayor Guy Le Franc, a former minor league hockey star who also operates a brothel in town. Emmanuelle Chriqui as a cultural liaison is pretty hilarious with exaggerated Quebecois line readings that seem inspired by Peter Sellers.
But we also have to endure a steady menu of sight gags relying on homophobic “humor”; multiple fight scenes with very little comedic payoff; an uninspired retread of the smuggling operation plot line from the original; too many moments featuring the insufferable and just-not-funny Farva character, and an ending that makes zero sense and has no payoff, even in this loony comedic universe.
Fox Searchlight presents a film directed by Jay Chandrasekhar and written by Broken Lizard. Rated R (for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug material and some graphic nudity). Running time: 100 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.