Just minutes into Fox”s new comedy, “Super Troopers,” the excited viewer may be disappointed to find that the pre-credit introduction contains some of the film”s funniest bits. So sad for a flick with so much comedic potential.
“Super Troopers” is the first full-feature film by the New York/Los Angeles based comedy troupe Broken Lizard, consisting of Jay Chandrasekhar (who co-wrote and directed the film), Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske. Formed in 1989 at Colgate University, the outfit had its first breakthroughs as a touring sketch comedy act. “Super Troopers” is all too indicative of this more offbeat brand of comedic exercise.
The film is set in the boondock town of Spurbury, Vermont. Situated close to the Canadian border and isolated from any sort of real crime, the local highway patrol officers Thorny, Mac, Foster, Rabbit and Farva (played by the members of Broken Lizard) pass their time by playfully harassing random motorists and engaging in all sorts of general buffoonery. Hardly models of law enforcement, the mustachioed patrolmen are all redeeming, likeable fellows. They give the movie its warm, if campy charm.
The hijinx of the Spurbury Highway Patrol are rudely interrupted, however, by a drug-related murder and evidence of a massive marijuana smuggling operation. Under threats of severe budget cuts by the governor (Lynda Carter), the guys, led by their grizzled but fatherly captain (Brian Cox), resolve to beat the Spurbury Police Department (the token nasty arch-rivals) to the solution to the case. Of course, the bumbling troopers must overcome their own ineptness as well as the dirty tricks of the SPD. Yes, it”s predictable, but yes, it”s also very funny.
Much of the plot line for “Super Troopers” is in the vein of formulaic police comedies like “Police Academy,” yet the film derives most of its appeal from the creative but lower-key antics that fuel the fun. Some of the movie”s highlights are a trio of high school stoners who Thorny (Chandrasekhar) and Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske) “freak out” and a kinky pair of German car thieves/lovers. The humor is somewhat lacking in depth, but somehow maintains a pleasantly innocent yet irreverent feel.
“Super Troopers” also stands apart from other movies of its genre with its eschewal of cheap and ubiquitous punch lines. The comedy always has a thoroughly original style, relying on the raw talent of Broken Lizard rather than the film”s more mainstream players. The film also delightfully shuns the orthodox with its risqu inclusion of a masturbating trooper, a tripping teen and other instances of hilarity on par with the Farrelly Brothers.
It”s always refreshing to see the triumph of independent entertainment over the hastily made, cheaply star-driven flops that clutter the box offices. “Super Troopers” does indeed falter at times, mainly due its absence of celebrity and its smaller budget, yet ultimately winds up as one of those pleasurable movies you just have to smile about.