The original Super Troopers exists in kind of a haze for me personally, though not in the way that comedy collective Broken Lizard probably hopes. It was a staple of afternoon Comedy Central movies that just mindlessly played on TV when I got home from school in the mid-aughts, and it was always regarded with the mediocre half-interest reserved for slack-off teenagers who were too busy sending instant messages to their crush(es) than watching a movie (other films in this genre include Saving Silverman, Slackers, Loser and many, many more).
So the cult phenomenon escaped me, and I wound up with a sort of half-finished idea of what the movie looked like: About 10 minutes of memorable jokes swimming in a rough miasma of filler. That’s exactly what Super Troopers 2 brings to the table some 16 years later — yes, that’s right, the original film is almost too old to find the sequel funny — except it misunderstands the comedic appeal of its characters and its tone and pace.
And yes, that’s also right: The first Super Troopers was in essence a hang-out movie, in which the workings of the plot were so inconsequential in comparison to the personalities and the gags within its hour-and-40-minute runtime. Sure, certain characters distinguished themselves, like Kevin Heffernan’s fat dipshit dispatcher Farva or Brian Cox’s stern but silly Captain O’Hagen, but the four core members of the group — leader Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar, who also directs), masochist Mac (Steve Limme), responsible Foster (Paul Soter) and rookie Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske) — disappear when good gags come about.
Now, like most comedy sequels, the film seems to think that an intense focus on a remarkably stupid plot with the same cast, which concerns the Troopers being tasked by Vermont Governor Lynda Carter to patrol a portion of Canada that will be soon be ceded to the United States because of a mapping error and coming into conflict with the Mounties (Will Sasso, Tyler Labine and Hayes McArthur), will be a good enough substitute for the charms of the first movie. Amongst a cavalcade of celebrity cameos, Rob Lowe plays the possibly corrupt Mayor of the small Canadian town that they’re about to absorb, and he’s stunningly unfunny here, mangling a joke about the Halifax Explosion so badly it’s kind of impressive.
Based on that brief synopsis, you might be surprised to learn that many, many of the jokes concern the differences between Canadians and Americans (Their beer sucks! French Canadians are strange! They’re too polite!), and even the scatological humor, previously a uniter of all peoples, falls strangely flat. There just aren’t that many bits either, in comparison to the previous film which felt like a throw-every-sketch-at-the-wall type of comedy that actually had a few things stick, and most of the jokes are either shitty allusions to the first film (first amongst others, Jim Gaffigan shows up again as the victim of the “right meow” bit) or colossally weird and out of character shit that doesn’t have much of a purpose in the overall plot. Among the most annoying and unfunny is Thorny’s addiction to a female hormone supplement, found in a cache of drugs that the group discovers in the woods, which causes him to develop lactating male breasts and be overly emotional towards his colleagues. It’s a joke that doesn’t really ever have a payoff, and it just feels kind of… well, mean, to those who might be using hormone replacement therapy to transition.
Then there’s Farva, who has had his role in the proceedings upped by several thousand percentage points, and he has gone from prank victim and relatively normal (if shitty) guy to diabolical idiot who has to be at the center of every single scene in the entire film. Seriously, you could cut 20 minutes of Farva jokes out of the film and he’d still have a few good scenes and the ensemble would be more balanced. His shtick wears thin pretty fucking quickly, and you can only handle so much of Heffernan’s shouting before you’ll want to run out of the theater screaming yourself. He overwhelms the film, blankets it in empty bullshit, and totally upends the group dynamic, which causes the other characters to be pushed to the tertiary for much of the proceedings. It’s honestly so awful I think that it could ruin highs all over the nation, especially given that only 20- and 30-something stoners with nostalgia boners would seek this out for some 4/20 entertainment.
So yeah, I’m sorry to say that Super Troopers 2 is a pretty terrible sequel, one which has totally forgotten what few charms that the first one had and doubles down on all of its worst impulses. I’m racking my brain trying to think of the moments I laughed at, if I did at all, and I’m coming up empty. Maybe Brian Cox said something that deserved a chuckle once? Still, the best thing about Super Troopers 2 is that publicity materials and Letterboxd said it would have clean 120-minute runtime, and it actually is only 99 minutes long, so I saved some 21 minutes of my life that otherwise would have been lost to this comedy abyss. It’s the small things that count.
Image via Fox Searchlight.