I will give any genre of movie a shot. However, one type of movie that I connect with the least for whatever reason is the dumb-humored R-comedy. Sure, I loved Wedding Crashers, and National Lampoon movies I have seen too many times to count (the ones dating before the 2000s). I will see anything with the names Judd Apatow or The Farrelly Brothers attached to it, and I will be the first in line to see The Hangover 2. However, my affinity towards these movies ends about there. American Pie left me hungry for laughs, Road Trip ran out of gas about ten minutes in, Waiting… had me waiting for it to be over, and Hot Tub Time Machine had me looking at my watch more than the screen.
Are You With Us?
By Ryan Mazie
November 11, 2010
But Super Troopers might be one of the worst I have seen in quite some time when it comes to dumb comedy with a restricted rating.
Looking for a laugh, I decided to reluctantly watch Super Troopers. Between its decent IMDb rating and lukewarm remarks from friends, I figured I would give it a shot. Turns out I should have dodged this stray bullet and stayed far away.
This is the point where I usually talk about the plot, but there really is not one to be found in Super Troopers. Resembling a bad Saturday Night Live episode, the film is merely skit upon skit of twisted cops pulling twisted pranks on equally twisted Vermonters. The only inkling of a story holding the random sketches together is that the Vermont government’s budget cuts are forcing the troopers out of their jobs in favor for the local police department. After seeing these troopers in action, it is not hard to see why.
Afraid of losing their positions, the troopers try to prove their worth through some convoluted case involving a truck filled with marijuana.
Jay Chandrasekhar directs, co-scripts, and stars as the lead trooper. Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske also co-script and co-star in equally non-descript roles, making up the five person comedy troupe known as Broken Lizard. Hitting the nightclub comedy circuit in the early ‘90s, the group gained traction with the college crowd. In 1996, the guys released their first film, Puddle Cruiser. Playing at film festivals, it failed to find a distributor and went straight-to-DVD. Gaining a cult following, the men followed up Puddle Cruiser with the $3 million-budgeted Super Troopers, which made double its costs on opening weekend. Picked up by Fox Searchlight, the film was moderately successful when it was released over President’s Day weekend in 2002 (fun fact: That weekend’s top ten included Britney Spears’ Crossroads, the Peter Pan sequel – Return to Neverland, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Snow Dogs, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s disastrous Collateral Damages. Talk about quality). Out of theaters as quickly as it went in, the film accumulated a tidy $18.5 million ($25.3 million today) and really made the big bucks when it hit DVD.
Fox Searchlight, high on the Broken Lizard brand, released the dreadful serial killer comedy, Club Dread, exactly two years later. The momentum failed to carry, as that film made exactly $5 million overall, less than Troopers’ opening weekend.
In 2006, WB took over distribution, releasing Beerfest to nearly $20 million, showing a verge of a comeback. However, their latest film (which was released by Anchor Bay – an offshoot of Starz), The Slammin’ Salmon was shoved under the carpet, opening in 11 theaters, winding up with only $40,000. This seemed to put an end, at least theatrically, to the Broken Lizard seal.
Super Troopers' first scene has potential, as the officers pull over potheads on the highway in a series of events that somehow end up in a high-speed chase. While this could have been a perfectly funny skit, the improved nature of sketch comedy rarely translates well to film. Skits have little character development, no clear beginning or end, and are revolved around one joke. While this works in short form, translating the same concept to a hundred or so minutes surely will result in failure (Just look at this summer’s MacGruber. It was such a bomb, not even the titular character could have diffused it).
This film had me longing for the Harold and Kumar series that offers the same type of irreverent humor, but unlike Super Troopers, has characters and a goal that are clear and worth caring about. In this film, we are left with a mess. Characters come and go. The jokes rarely hit their target. Or maybe I just don’t see any humor in people randomly chugging maple syrup? If you can explain why I am supposed to laugh, please, shoot me an email of enlightenment.
Comedy is the hardest thing to analyze. While drama is very straightforward, comedy is subjective across cultures. My suitemate in college loves Conan O’Brien and will be watching his new show every night. I prefer the more lowbrow and satirical comedy styling that Chelsea Handler brings with her round table of comedians on Chelsea Lately (let the war of the remote begin). I will not go in-depth analyzing the humor since I realize the Broken Lizard series has a fan niche and the 6.8 rating on IMDb Super Troopers holds, proves that I am in the minority. But analyzing this as a film, it still does not hold up. The plot is non-existent; the characters are unlikable train wrecks, and the “jokes” (to me) were just not funny at all. Maybe if I was drunk and stoned with a “fuck the police attitude” the film might have made me laugh but I was neither one of those three at the time of viewing.
Super Troopers used to be played in regular rotation on Comedy Central, but has been replaced by other new spoof movies (who else saw last week’s Scary Movie marathon?). Broken Lizard seems to have lost their following. Even their recently announced foray back into theaters, Super Troopers 2 (God help us all), is having trouble getting off the ground. Super Troopers is not with us for these reasons and more. The movie seems to have made its way to the bargain bin, ignored for newer and better raunchy comedies.
Super Troopers is a mess straight and simple. While it is nice to get the feeling that the cast is having fun (Ocean’s Eleven), it isn’t nice when the audience does not partake in the amusement, too (Ocean’s Twelve). Jay Chandrasekhar can smirk at the camera all he wants, but he should have something proud to smirk about first.
Verdict: Not With Us
1 out of 10