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Super Troopers

  super troopers
A Broken Lizard member attempts to be funny. Attempts.

© 2002, Fox Searchlight
All Rights Reserved

"Super Troopers" (IMDb listing) is the new film from the landmark comedy team Broken Lizard. A troupe of young men dedicating their lives to hilarity, Broken Lizard has entertained and shocked audiences around the globe with their "wacky" brand of humor and razor sharp satiric aim.

Yeah, I've never heard of them either.

And I sincerely hope that "Super Troopers" isn't representative of what the Broken Lizard's stage show is like. Desperate, tedious and radically overestimating the appeal of these newcomers, "Troopers" aims to take the throne alongside Monty Python, Kids In The Hall and The State. Yet, they seem to not realize that those troupes are timeless because they were funny.

It's a lonely summer out on the interstates, and for state troopers Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske), Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar, who also directs the picture), Mac (Steve Lemme), Farva (Kevin Heffernan) and Foster (Paul Soter), it may also be their last as officers of the law. Unless, of course, some major crime occurs to bring a little notoriety to the struggling trooper squad. When the troopers discover a huge drug smuggling ring in their quaint district, they must compete with the local cops (including Marisa Coughlan, "Freddy Got Fingered" and Daniel Von Bargen, "Malcolm In The Middle") to uncover who is behind the smuggling and try to save their jobs.

For the record, "Super Troopers" is not without laughs. Coming in the first 30 minutes, there is an excitement to the film. An electricity, a hope that the picture will soar to the heights of absurdity as "Holy Grail" did for the Pythons, or even the sorely overlooked gem "Wet Hot American Summer" from the MTV troupe, The State. But the sledgehammer of reality comes a knockin' when it becomes sadly apparent that Broken Lizard is composed of five gentlemen who are just not funny, and are woefully unprepared to carry a motion picture by themselves. From then on it's just 70 minutes of jokes that land with a thud and a plot that I'm being nice in describing as deeply unnecessary.

You see, "Super Troopers" doesn't really understand if it's a straight comedy-punchline-story film, or one of those berserk absurdist comedies that attain nirvana if done just right. The film bounces back and forth like a ping pong ball between the two comedy aesthetics, and the tone is maddening. Had the material been sillier, had the actors been more pleasing to the funny bone, "Super Troopers" might have had the juice to be something special. But Broken Lizard doesn't really understand how to set up a joke, and they actually have the nerve to stick to their ridiculous storyline all the way to the bitter end, the death rattle for any comedy that features a man making love to a bear.

The screenplay, written by the five members, is full of strained jokes and tired caricatures, most notably the state trooper clichés of tight polyester uniforms and bushy mustaches. This area was already covered by the Farrelly Brothers in "Me, Myself & Irene" three years ago, and I don't feel the Lizard has the chops to revisit this feeble target again so soon. Besides the aforementioned man-on-bear lovemaking, there are bulletproof codpieces, fat guy naked routines, sight gags about old respectable men getting drunk and urinating on people, and the always reliable blow-up sex doll jokes. Nothing to write home about here, and absolutely nothing that warrants a second look at Broken Lizard.

Honestly, I don't think "Super Troopers" is going to start Broken Lizard mania across the country. What I pray we all learn from this dud is that absurd comedies don't need plots, it helps to hire actual comedians to sell the jokes and never, ever—even if the studio pressures you to do so—have a man make love to bear. It's just not as funny as you might think.

Filmfodder Grade: D

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