SUPER TROOPERS (2002)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Language, Sexual Content and Drug Use

Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar

Written by: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter & Erik Stolhanske

Starring: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Marisa Coughlan, Daniel von Bargen & Brian Cox

SUPER TROOPERS is a goofy comedy that was penned by and stars the Broken Lizard comedy team. This indie effort was inspired by the group’s experiences as they travelled across the country under the influence of drugs. As they were constantly pulled over by various police officers, the group began to wonder if the officers were aware of their drug-addled state and if they had a sense of humor. Thus, this cult comedy was born. This film has built quite a reputation for itself and even has an Indiegogo-funded sequel currently in the works. Though it’s far from perfect or great, SUPER TROOPERS is a charming, crude laugh-fest.

In the small town of Spurbury, Vermont, five state troopers (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske) patrol the highway. This small band of uniformed ne’er-do-wells have a penchant for rowdy pranks and have found themselves in a fierce rivalry with the local police department. As federal budget cuts wait on the horizon, the Vermont state troopers might unemployed in the near future. However, they get their chance at redemption when a corpse turns up in their small town and a giant semi-truck full of weed is seized. Can these five troopers save the day and keep their jobs? Possibly, if they can stop fooling around and drinking for five minutes.

I understand and appreciate SUPER TROOPERS’s main appeal. This film was clearly written by a comedy trope because it runs through many hilarious set-pieces that almost feel like webisodes of an online comedy series. These moments involving routine traffic stops, outrageous pranks, and confrontations over possible spit in a burger are all genuinely funny in a really juvenile way. The film also has a few colorful characters in three stoners who bookend the film (in two of the funniest scenes), Brian Cox as the frustrated chief of the Vermont troopers, and Kevin Heffernan as the obnoxious slob Farva.

However, the writing falls by the wayside as the rest of its characters range from good enough to one-note cut-outs. A significant subplot is given to Paul Soter and Marisa Coughlan’s characters as they become involved in a so-so romance. This subplot has its moments, but somewhat serves as a driving force for the weaker main storyline that ties everything together. Steve Lemme is fun as the most rambunctious trooper of the bunch, but Jay Chandrasekhar and Erik Stolhanske both seem sadly underdeveloped. The rival police antagonists aren’t given nearly enough screen time (about four short scenes) for the viewer to really to care about their existence, other than Daniel von Bargen’s dickhead chief of police.

Though it has many funny set-pieces (ranging from training with bulletproof cups to pulling over two sex-crazed German lovers), SUPER TROOPERS’s main plot leaves quite a bit to be desired. The conspiracy of a drug ring and a dead body is brought into conversations, but doesn’t really play a giant role until the final third. By the time the last 30 minutes roll around, it feels like this half-baked script is unnecessarily rushing through plot points that could have been extra effective/interesting if more time was spent on letting them sink in.

As a whole, SUPER TROOPERS is exactly the kind of film that it was intended to be from the get-go. This is a wacky comedy about prankster state troopers that engage in all sorts of shenanigans and occasionally do their jobs in a silly manner. The characters are split across the board in that half of the troopers are legitimately funny to watch and the other half are a bit too bland to care about. The paper-thin plot that holds genuinely funny set-pieces together is weak, but you don’t walk into a movie like SUPER TROOPERS for the story. If you want to laugh and enjoy crude humor, SUPER TROOPERS is a fun time!

Grade: B

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