Broken Lizard comedy troupe’s 2001 film Super Troopers was a special kind of weird. Part stoner comedy, part wince-inducing prank reel, and part underdog story about a group of flippant Vermont state troopers trying to save their jobs, Super Troopers first defied expectations by virtue of getting made at all. It then did so again by turning enough of a profit — and becoming enough of a cult classic — to win over studios for the troupe’s next few projects.
More than 17 years later, the film is continuing to defy the odds by turning one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns of all time into a sequel — so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that Super Troopers 2 also bucks typical comedy-sequel tradition by being a pretty funny movie, too.
The core cast of the film plays off each other well enough to get a laugh from even the most repetitive jokes.
Directed once again by Broken Lizard member Jay Chandrasekhar, Super Troopers 2 brings back the five-man creative team as co-writers and stars, with Brian Cox also reprising his role as the troopers’ ornery commander. The film picks up after the events of the 2001 film, and finds the troopers dispatched to police a region near the northern edge of Vermont that’s become the subject of a border dispute between the U.S. and Canada. Where the first film had them feuding with the local police department, Super Troopers 2 pits the prank-happy troopers against a trio of Canadian Mounties and the mayor of the border town.
Along with Cox and Broken Lizard members Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske as the Vermont troopers, the film casts Rob Lowe as a former hockey player who now serves as the mayor and owner of the local brothel, and Entourage actress Emmanuelle Chriqui as a cultural attaché working with the American and Canadian groups. The trio of Canadian Mounties are played by Tyler Labine (Tucker & Dale vs. Evil), Will Sasso (The Three Stooges), and Hayes MacArthur (Angie Tribeca).
There was a glorious sense of chaos to the original Super Troopers, which seemed willing and able to do just about anything to make you laugh, and frequently teetered on the brink of collapsing under its own silliness. Super Troopers 2 doesn’t quite capture that same recklessness, but it still has its moments.
Cox and the Broken Lizard team are almost 20 years older now than they were when Super Troopers was filmed, and the sequel’s practical jokes and pratfalls seem to reflect those years by coming across as a bit more managed this time around. The jokes are still funny, but the sense of ad-libbed unpredictability that fueled the first film has been replaced by a script that feels more carefully, well … scripted.
The film is conspicuously light on the sort of trippy weed humor that filled the original film.
That’s not to say that Super Troopers 2 is lacking when it comes to laughs.
Much as the first film mined a lot of its comedy from the syrup-swilling, tree-hugging, laid-back picture of Vermont and the surrounding North Country life that it painted, Super Troopers 2 roots its humor in the cultural, political, and — as it pertains to each country’s preferred units of measurement — incremental differences between the U.S. and Canada. Metric conversion jokes, references to American obesity, and overly affected pronunciation of the word “sorry” are recurring themes in Super Troopers 2, and it’s a credit to the film’s talented cast and creative team that these jokes generally continue to be funny despite how many times they go back to that well.
There’s a limit to how often you can hear Lowe, the Broken Lizard crew, and other actors speak in faux Canadian accents that can best be described as “zany” before tiring of the shtick, though, and it does wear a little thin by the 60-minute mark. Fortunately, the core cast of the film plays off each other well enough to get a laugh from even the most repetitive jokes, and once the film finds its groove, they provide plenty of reminders why the 2001 movie was so memorable (and quotable).
One surprisingly absent element this time around is the abundance of genuine stoner comedy that helped make the 2001 feature so popular with post-high-school, college-age audiences when it was released. The studio and the film’s creative team made a big deal about the film hitting theaters on April 20 (a date widely regarded as an annual holiday for recreational drug aficionados), but the film is conspicuously light on the sort of trippy weed humor that filled the original film.
Whether that drug-free tone is a result of the Broken Lizard team feeling their age or some other rationale, it only adds to the more controlled — though certainly not more mature — vibe of Super Troopers 2 when compared to the original film.
It ultimately works in the film’s favor that the bar is set pretty low for comedy sequels at this point. The failures of countless comedy sequels to match — or even approach — the level of humor that made their predecessors so successful has made any follow-up movie that manages to elicit a few laughs feel like a win.
Thankfully, Super Troopers 2 delivers more than just a few laughs, and although it doesn’t match the original film’s sense of devil-may-care humor, it does provide some genuinely fun, laugh-out-loud funny moments that will leave Super Troopers fans satisfied.