They did it. Those crazy bastards actually did it.
In early 2002, the Broken Lizard comedy troupe released Super Troopers, their second feature film following the micro budget indie comedy Puddle Cruiser. The first Troopers brought back a healthy $18.5m box office return from a minimal budget, but its success would reveal itself in the years that followed, as it amassed a following of dedicated fans.
Directed by the Lizards’ own Jay Chandrasekhar, the original Super Troopers is a riot of rowdy, silly humour. The syrup-chugging highway patrol refuse to take their jobs seriously, instead pranking speeders and feuding with local cops, somehow uncovering a massive drug smuggling operation in the process.
Now, 16 years later, Thorny, Farva, Mac, Rabbit and Foster ride again in Super Troopers 2.
You’d be forgiven for approaching Super Troopers 2 with wariness. After all, we’re only four years out from Dumb And Dumber To, the comedy sequel revival set released 20 years after the original. While the studio had already produced a prequel with none of the original creative team, the aggressively poor Dumb And Dumberer, the sequel saw a return from the Farrelly brothers, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Yet the film, though not without its moments (Rob Riggle is responsible for a few of them), is nowhere near as good as the original.
Dumb And Dumber To ran into trouble in a few different ways. The characters weren’t quite the same, as the previously simple but sweet-hearted Harry and Lloyd seemed to have developed something of a nasty streak. Then, it did little more than to trade on the cachet of the original; it simply isn’t funny enough on its own. Perhaps the most frustrating element, though, can be found in the joke ‘Wanna hear the second most annoying sound in the world?’
It’s a call back to one of the jokes from the first movie, where Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels summon seemingly impossible deeply infuriating noises that cut through you, tickling your funny bone on the way through. It’s one of the most famous gags in the film, but to the characters it’s just a passing moment, the pair passing time on a long journey. The sequel prescribes massive significance to every moment in the first film for the characters, when ‘wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?’ is just how they talk to each other. It was important to us, not to them.
Against incredible odds, Super Troopers 2 doesn’t have any of those problems. Instead, it’s a worthy sequel and a very funny comedy in its own right.
Captain O’Hagan (Brian Cox) has a job for the boys. A border dispute between the US and Canada (this must have seemed very silly and unlikely when they wrote it) means that a small patch of Canadian land will soon become part of America. Charged with making the area compliant with US laws, the gang soon find themselves up to their necks in a conspiracy.
After kicking off with a very strong action-infused set piece, the early pacing of Super Troopers 2 isn’t fantastic. However, while the Broken Lizard team may not hit their stride right away, the early scenes are no disaster. The characters are immediately recognisable as correct, exactly as we left them. It feels like we’re settling into the film and that it’s a perfectly adequate follow on, not much good but comfortable and enjoyable.
But then it gets going and, particularly once the pranking begins, suddenly everything really works. There are many, legitimate gut laughs in this film. The Lizards have managed to get back into their best groove, with new jokes that you’ll be quoting alongside your long time favourites and one set piece in particular that’s almost too funny to bear.
Everyone is good in it. The key Broken Lizard cast members are all on top form, likely energised by the high profile sequel and the fan enthusiasm it generated (Super Troopers 2 was the subject of a very successful crowdfunding campaign). Perhaps some of this is down to his character being so different from everyone else’s, but troupe member Kevin Heffernan steals the film. His dedicated turn as the smug and unaware Farva is wonderful, whether he’s eating M&Ms (you’ve gotta see it) or taking part in a high stakes bet (again, you’ve gotta see it). Heffernan is great in the first one too, but he didn’t steal that one. This one he steals.
On the subject of scene stealing cast members, it’s lovely to see Brian Cox returning, seemingly having a hoot with the material. Rob Lowe, meanwhile, commits to his supporting role to great effect. The team of Mounties, played by Will Sasso, Tyler Labine and Hayes MacArthur, all do a lot with little. In particular, their lone scene without the main cast is one of the highlights of the film. I could see making a case for a Mega Mounties spin off.
For the most part, Jay Chandrasekhar and the Lizards are able to stride forward confidently without getting the first film caught under their feet. There are call back jokes, ranging from throwaway references to brilliantly clever reinvention.
Where they do stumble is with the plotting. The story is too similar to that of the first movie, but with the plot less at the forefront. The result is that the story feels a like little more than a slight and predictable framing device for the jokes, while the big finale is anticlimactic. For a team whose comedy material feels so carefully worked through, the unambitious plotting is disappointing.
Even still, Super Troopers 2 is a very welcome sequel. Rather than a desperate attempt cash-in on their biggest hit, which you might diagnose if you haven’t seen it, Broken Lizard have been able to get back into the groove of the first film, delivering a comedy that’s joyously silly, hearteningly good natured and really funny. Not quite on par with the first movie, it is nonetheless a really funny comedy that’s recommended to regular cinemagoers and essential viewing for fans of the first (who can go ahead an add an extra star to the rating below).
Super Troopers 2 is in UK cinemas from June 15th.