Super Troopers’ enduring legacy may be the gags and one-liners that became beloved staples of stoners’ dorm rooms, but that 2001 debut from the Broken Lizard troupe—comprised of Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske and Jay Chandrasekhar, the last of whom also often directs—remains most notable for refusing to indulge in the sort of moralizing that characterized so much of the past two decades’ worth of mainstream comedy.
Unlike the influential directorial work of Judd Apatow, whose signature template involved reveling in bad manchild behavior before eventually forcing macho doofuses to realize the error of their ways and become adults, Broken Lizard’s maiden feature had no interest in maturation of any kind. Far more akin to Will Ferrell’s Anchorman and Step Brothers (both of which were, admittedly, produced by Apatow), it was juvenile, crude, inappropriate, and damn proud of it.
Broken Lizard’s refusal to grow up is born out by the very existence of Super Troopers 2 (in theaters, purposefully, on 4/20), which finds its clownish Vermont State Troopers—or former State Troopers, since they lost their jobs at the end of the first film—just as crass and ridiculous as before. And that stunted adolescence also speaks to the fortunes of Broken Lizard itself, which, seventeen years after its first big-screen effort, finds itself traversing familiar and safe territory (via a production aided by online crowdsourcing, no less). Having failed to truly become a household name, the troupe’s return to its former glory days carries with it a whiff of, if not desperation, at least resignation to the fact that they’ve maybe missed their shot at being the “next big thing,” and must now content themselves with being a cult attraction—albeit one that, as evidenced by their sequel, is still capable of providing a pleasurable, if somewhat uneven, absurdity high.
Super Troopers 2 starts off strong, with a State Trooper pulling over a tour bus emitting marijuana smoke in great, billowing clouds. This officer of the law, as it turns out, is (criminally underutilized frat-boy icon) Seann William Scott, who boards the vehicle and discovers former Troopers Thorny (Chandrasekhar), Jeff (Soter), Mac (Lemme), Rabbit (Stolhanske) and Farva (Heffernan) rocking out as supergroup “Crackle and Bacon,” which ostensibly brought them fortune and fame after their big win on America’s Got Talent. Before long, Scott’s partner shows up in the form of Damon Wayans Jr., who like Scott is in awe of his cop predecessors. Alas, a cruel prank soon sparks a shootout that results in a thoroughly destroyed bong, a shocking fatality, and a tragic automobile crash that appears to bring a swift and sudden end to the just-resurrected franchise.
That self-conscious opening is clearly a bunch of fantastical nonsense, and quickly gives way to the drearier reality of the Troopers: Rabbit, Jeff and Mac now spend their days listening to Farva use the word “caulk” as “cock” on construction jobs, while Thorny has transformed into a wood-chopping mountain man with ripped abs and a robust hobo-style beard. Super Troopers 2 (helmed by Chandrasekhar, and written by the quintet) wastes little time getting its protagonists back into action, thanks to the announcement by former Captain O’Hagen (a game Brian Cox) and Governor Jessman (Lynda Carter) that they’re being given their old jobs back—temporarily, at least. The reason: thanks to a border mistake, a small parcel of Canadian border territory is about to become part of Vermont, and they’re needed to help facilitate the forthcoming transition.
With a premise like that, it’s no surprise that Super Troopers 2 spends considerable energy on jokes at the expense of Canadians, including their use of the metric system and their weird pronunciation of the word “sorry” as “sowwry.” Those only multiply with the arrival of three Mounties—played by Tyler Labine, Will Sasso and Hayes MacArthur—who don’t take kindly to losing their jobs to a bunch of dim-bulb American losers. Compared to their own native land, where even a minor league hockey legend turned small-town mayor like Guy Le Franc (Rob Lowe) can legally operate a dual-sex bordello, America promises these Canucks little more than a new home marked by (according to them) no gun control, citizens who don’t believe in evolution, and an obesity epidemic.
The ensuing proceedings are of an equal-opportunity culture-war variety, as the Troopers and Mounties look to undermine each other via a series of childish gags, be it a grizzly bear in the Troopers’ station house or the Troopers stealing the Mounties’ uniforms and ruining their reputations by acting insanely with motorists. There’s also plenty of random idiocy, such as Farva being repeatedly electrocuted, Rabbit having his balls shaved, and Thorny getting in touch with his feminine side thanks to his burgeoning addiction to female sex pills that are part of a stash of drugs found by the Troopers. That discovery initiates the nominal plot, but as with the largely perfunctory supporting turns of Lowe (straining to be weird) and Emmanuelle Chriqui (featureless as Rabbit’s love interest), it’s beside the point, only there to bring some semblance of order and purpose to Broken Lizard’s scattershot humor—which is energized by the reliably wild Heffernan, here in peak annoying-profane-belligerent mode.
As befitting a second go-round, Super Troopers 2 rehashes virtually all of its ancestor’s most popular bits, from Farva’s “Ramrod!” nickname, to a hinted-at “incident” that we don’t see until the closing credits, to Jeff and Mac’s memorable “meow” stunt (replete with a return appearance by Jim Gaffigan). The faithful will be placated by such recycling, and to be sure, the Broken Lizard guys do their best to revisit those jokes in semi-novel ways, all while couching them amidst a number of amusing original routines. Yet those moments are ultimately the film’s weakest link, and reminders that the troupe hasn’t gone very far in the past two decades—and that they’re now satisfied with pandering to the choir rather than pushing their idiosyncratic comedy into stranger, less predictable realms. They don’t need to grow up, but on the basis of their latest, they’d be better served steering clear of any more greatest-hits packages.