Movie review: Super Troopers 2 is sometimes funny, sometimes not

Super Troopers 2 brings back Paul Soter, Jay Chandrasekhar, Erik Stolhanske, Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, plus the wisecracking, 
17 years after the original. Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures Super Troopers 2 brings back Paul Soter, Jay Chandrasekhar, Erik Stolhanske, Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, plus the wisecracking, 17 years after the original. Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Though Broken Lizard found mixed critical and financial results with its subsequent follow-ups to the 2001 cult hit Super Troopers, you do have to hand it to the guys for wanting to try something different before coming back around to the property that launched their film and TV careers. The underrated Club Dread was perhaps a bit too spot-on of a slasher parody to make inroads with broad audiences, Beerfest had some inspired moments but was perhaps a bit too uneven to generate the same word-of-mouth campaign as their first outing, and The Slammin’ Salmon was a fun idea for a short or sketch that had no business being a feature-length film.

Now that Super Troopers 2 has arrived in theaters 17 years later, does it live up to its predecessor? That depends on your definition of “live up.” Everyone involved is certainly better at what they do, both in front of and behind the camera. The troupe has enlisted more top-shelf talent (Rob Lowe, Will Sasso) with a diverse range of comedic backgrounds for the supporting cast. The jokes can be quite clever, and the Broken Lizard crew seem more natural in their roles as they fire them off. The only problem is that there are so many of them that you barely have time to react before five or six more come at you in rapid fire.

Super Troopers 2
R, 100 minutes
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX, Violet Crown Cinema

This may not sound like a huge problem for a stoner comedy like this; after all, breezy, inspired silliness is totally par for the course. But the effect isn’t a laugh riot so much as it is a smothering of its best material. One of Super Troopers’ most enduring qualities was its instant quotability. Walking out of Super Troopers 2, you’ll no doubt remember a few moments you thought were fun, but you probably will struggle to remember how or why, and the quotable lines are even more evasive. This isn’t just a stoner comedy, the movie itself appears to be too stoned to handle itself.

We meet the former Vermont state troopers as they are reunited to represent their state in newly acquired land from Canada. It seems historical markers indicating the line between Vermont and Quebec did not match the known map, leaving the troopers in charge of a population resentful of the new occupying force. Before long, a smuggling operation is uncovered, and the investigation is impeded by their rivalry with the local Mounties. Make a list of joke premises in your head and you’ve written about half the script already. Many jokes about French, “sorry,” gun control, obesity and more abound—some funny, some not, all subject to repetition.

The lead performances help move things along when the material doesn’t. Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske and Jay Chandrasekhar (who also directed) have genuinely evolved as actors, so things never descend into a bunch of improv guys giggling to themselves like the first film did at its worst moments. That said, Farva (Heffernan) is much more prominent in ways that are never fully welcome. The movie begins with a dream sequence starring Sean William Scott and Damon Wayans Jr. Scott is referred to as “Stifler,” and what the American Pie series did with that character—put him front and center for everything, whether he belonged there or not—is an unfortunately apt comparison to Super Troopers 2 and Farva.

In any case, it’s fine—you’ll laugh, just not as much as you should to make this long-delayed sequel worthwhile.

Playing this week

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
377 Merchant Walk Sq., 326-5056

A Quiet Place, Blockers, I Feel Pretty, Isle of Dogs, Rampage, Ready Player One

Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX
The Shops at Stonefield, 244-3213

A Quiet Place, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Blockers, Chappaquiddick, I Feel Pretty, Isle of Dogs, Rampage, Ready Player One, Traffik, Truth or Dare, Tyler Perry’s Acrimony

Violet Crown Cinema
200 W. Main St., Downtown Mall, 529-3000

A Quiet Place, Beirut, Black Panther, Blockers, Death of Stalin, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, I Feel Pretty, Ismael’s Ghost, Isle of Dogs, Rampage, Ready Player One

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