Super Troopers 2, 2018.
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar.
Starring Erik Stolhanske, Jay Chandrasekhar, Steve Lemme, Paul Sotor, Kevin Heffernan, Brian Cox, Marisa Coughlan, Bruce McCulloch, Lynda Carter, Rob Lowe, Hayes MacArthur, Tyler Labine, and Will Sasso.
When a border dispute arises between the U.S. and Canada, the Super Troopers are tasked with establishing a Highway Patrol station in the disputed area.
We catch up with the titular Vermont Highway patrol officers as Governor Jessman (erstwhile Wonder Woman Lynda Carter) offers them a shot at redemption for past slip-ups. Their mission: to take over policing duties in a small French-Canadian town recently remanded to the U.S. thanks to a snafu involving border markers. (Canada seems to have become regular comedic fodder because its relation to the U.S. feels tranquil enough for some semi-good-natured mockery.) Soon, the Troopers butt heads with the Canadian Mounties while attempting to unravel the mystery around a drug smuggling ring.
Penned by the group Broken Lizard (Erik Stolhanske, Jay Chandrasekhar, Steve Lemme, Paul Sotor and Kevin Heffernan) the story unfolds out of the central culture clash. Alternately, it leans into and tilts away from American and Canadian stereotypes. The blundering back-and-forth between the Mounties and the Troopers serves as a great engine for the ensuing absurdity.
The germ of the sequel’s premise apparently came from an NPR report on the contested nature of stones meant to demarcate the border between the U.S. and Canada. Spinning out from these journalistic roots the subsequent narrative takes its liberties with regards to everything from Canadian brothels to the accents, which slip and slide from Canadian to Irish to slightly Russian. And that’s the best thing about the film: it doesn’t feel bound to anything except the will to do justice to the original.
The film seeks to both hearken back to and one-up the original. From the opening pullover of a tour bus to the run-in with a Grizzly Bear, the movie deploys amplified versions of familiar sequences. Seeing Super Troopers 2 before the first one, I did not initially realize that, in broad strokes, the plots had the same skeleton.
The jokes are varied and profuse enough that even when one falls flat the following one hits home. The hits and misses will be differently calibrated depending on the viewer. In interviews, Broken Lizard attribute the wide-ranging nature of the comedy to their own divergent senses of humor. However, the one constant is that the style uniformly feels in the vein of the early 2000s, which could be a nostalgic jolt for some and a tiresome retreading for others.
While the script sprinkles in topical leitmotifs, the phrase “make America Great Again” is said, broad comedy reigns. Bears chase people into porta potties, crotches get nicked by Table Saw blades, and men lactate. However, like the first Super Troopers, and the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End), smaller jokes run under the radar to reward repeat viewings. Of course, it’s hard to tell now whether this sequel will be streamed as much as its predecessor was rotated.
As an experience, Super Troopers 2 clicks along as a highly enjoyable, smartly stupid throwback to comedies of the aughts as well as older titles like Caddyshack, Animal House, and The Pink Panther. It casts its gaze back more than forward, but fans of the first, and slapstick in general, will find tons to laugh at. It might even win a few converts.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★