|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 06 August 2002|
Take two opposing law enforcement teams in Vermont — one the local Spurbury Police Department and the other the local station of the Vermont Highway Patrol — and have them both facing budget cuts so that only one can survive. Throw in a big-time drug distribution threat, a murder victim who wears a Johnny Chimpo cartoon tattoo relating to drug distributors, two sex-crazed Germans (one of each sex) and star-crossed lovers in different uniforms. Once all those ingredients are in place, shake well, then take away accountability and liberally lace with a view of the world that’s skewed and just out to have fun.
“Super Troopers” opens up Chapter 1 with a bluesy rocker that fires up the subwoofer and makes full use of the surround sound system the way a good comedy film should (comedy and music are usually successfully paired). Panning onto the highway with a carload of guys smoking the wacky tobacky, the viewer knows the film is going to start out fast and keep moving. As the Highway Patrol rolls by, the guys panic and start eating the weed and the ‘shrooms.
The party animals get a brief reprieve, but the Highway Patrol car quickly shows up again, roaring up on the party animals from behind. Officer Thorny and rookie Officer Rabbit are introduced in short order (perhaps disorder would be a more proper description). In the space of a few short minutes, the party animals inside the car are treated to a user’s worst recurring nightmare — repeated time after time. One of the funniest parts is when the three guys, thinking they’re safe, start making tough-guy remarks. As if the troopers heard them, the Highway Patrol vehicle squeals to a stop and comes back for a return visit. The party animals are busted for “Littering . . . and smoking the reefer.”
Thorny and Rabbit take the party animals into custody just in time to kick off a high-speed chase in Chapter 3. The guys are screaming in terror as they’re made unwilling participants in the chase, which kicks up the surround sound system again, banging out a hard-driving rock-and-roll beat, ripping down the highway. Officer Foster is introduced while using a mannequin to take his place so he can catch up on his fishing. After pursing the speeding vehicle to a bar, Officer Mac — the wildest man of the gonzo trooper team — is introduced. Officer Farva is also introduced as a Barney Fyfe-type lunkhead on steroids with an Incredible Hulk mental capability — “Farva smash” — and a kill ‘em all attitude. Later at a diner, Thorny and Rabbit compete in a syrup-chugging contest. The attraction between Foster and Officer Ursula of the Spurbury PD is also introduced.
Chapter 4 delineates the animosity between the Highway Patrol and the local PD. A fight breaks out, requiring the intervention of John O’Hagan (Brian Cox), who later doles out the depressing statistics that may cause the closure of the trooper post. All of the major players are in place, with plenty of problems. Since this is a comedy, though, those problems have to be tweaked and those personalities challenged in new ways that will expose even more of their bizarre natures.
Chapter 5 kicks into motion with a laid-black blues riff that leads right into the “Meow” game. Challenged by Mac, Foster tries to say “meow” 10 times during a conversation with a guy who has been pulled over by the local PD. This is only one of the gags that recur throughout the story.
The stakes kick up in Chapter 6 as the state police find a murder victim in a Winnebago parked off the highway. A maddened hog hidden in the rear of the Winnebago bursts free, throwing the murder scene into serious humor again in a heartbeat. Hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll underscores the manic free-for-all. Afterwards, hostage negotiations begin between the two law enforcement teams.
Chapter 7 unveils some of the best sight gags in the movie, starting with a shaving cream and locker scene while O’Hagan is announcing his serious displeasure at losing the murder investigation, then moving on to a little league baseball game as Foster tries to put the moves on Ursula. The baseball crowd noises roll through the main speakers while the primary conversations issue through the center speaker(s).
The blues riffs return in Chapter 8 to play up the Foster/Ursula interaction and as the troopers pull over a truck that skips the weigh station. Mac and Foster do a “repeater” presentation that guarantees a good laugh, and a foreshadowing of what’s going to happen to the two intrepid heroes. The car noises run through the right main speaker as Thorny and Rabbit “rescue” Foster and Mac. Upon further inspection, the troopers discover the truck is filled with marijuana labeled with the same image that was found on the dead woman.
The photo shoot with the bales of marijuana in Chapter 9 is hilarious, the kind of thing that must go on at one point or another in a police station. Back on patrol, Thorny and Rabbit roll up on a sports car headed in the other direction. After pulling the Porsche over, they discover the two people in the car are German sex enthusiasts playing a techno beat that blasts the subwoofer. The bit with Thorny and the feather has to be seen because words just can’t do the performance justice.
Chapter 10 delivers one of the best lines of the movie as the police chief tells O’Hagan that, “Desperation is a stinky cologne, John.” Rabbit takes the Porsche from the garage lock-up and goes on a run. A basso beat throbs through the surround sound to accompany Rabbit’s flight down the highway. A blues track and a radar gun spices up Mac’s love life before Rabbit races by, luring him into hot pursuit. The bass keeps banging the subwoofer while the shrill effect of shredding rubber rips through the main speakers, moving from left to right and back again.
The fun bluesy riff returns again in Chapter 11 as Foster and Ursula get together. Later, as Mac and Foster attempt to use the impounded 18-wheeler, the engine blast thunders through the subwoofer.
Chapter 12 shows Farva in his element, first at the burger joint and later in lock-up at the police department. In Chapter 13, Ursula and Foster meet in a restaurant for one of the better sight gags. The sounds of the restaurant — the music and the other conversations — cycle through the surround sound system, making us feel like we are sitting at the table with the couple.
Southern rock music hammers through the surround sound system during the bulletproof jock sequence in Chapter 14. When the Troopers get ready to free up some key evidence in Chapter 15, the bluesy rock beat comes pounding back, setting up the out-of-this-world distraction Rabbit causes in the forest that is one of the most humorous pieces in the movie. As the time counts down on the moment the troopers are trying to seize to make themselves look good, the scenes are intercut rapid-fire with blasting rock music that adds to the sheer drive of the story.
Chapter 17 showers the surround sound system with the dynamite beat of Southern rock again. With their backs up against the wall and facing the inevitability of being shut down, the Troopers go on a drunken rip through the town, generating definite soda-through-the-nose laugh-out-loud moments for the unprepared and unwary. All stops are off and no mercy is allowed.
The DVD’s additional materials are decent, though a full-length movie commentary by a few or all of the Broken Lizard members is sorely missing. They do commentary on the outtake scenes, but a lot of the movie goes uncovered -- it would have been interesting to hear what they had to say. The additional outtakes include some hilarious stuff that must have been hard to cut, with one scene with Cox doing a drunken O’Hagan on a rampage that is to die for. However, for some reason, the alternate ending and two other outtakes are missing in action on the disc. Also included is a short newsreel covering some of the PR the acting troupe did to promote the movie.
“Super Troopers” is a no-holds-barred 103-minute belly laugh. The humor is crude, sexual and sophomoric, depending on wordplay and sight gags, body language and straight-faced deliveries. The five actors who play Thorny, Farva, Mac, Foster, and Rabbit (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske) are a comedy team billed collectively as Broken Lizard. Besides acting in the movie, they also co-wrote the script, which obviously gave them a better sense of timing and more familiarity with the material. These guys are just out to have fun, and it shows.
While not everyone’s cup of tea, “Super Troopers” is highly recommended for evenings when there are no friends around who might be offended by crude sensibilities, when all moral responsibility is checked at the door, and when the air is rife with juvenile testosterone just looking for a fantasy movie playing a “what-if” riff that is one step past “never-gonna-happen.” The people behind Broken Lizard are talented and immensely funny. People who enjoy Kevin Smith’s films are going to be ready for “Super Troopers” if they haven’t already found the DVD.