Like many of a certain age, I was a fan of Broken Lizard’s 2001 stoner cop cult classic “Super Troopers,” which circulated smoky dorm rooms in the early 2000s. The energetic, silly and wordy comedy of the then-unknown troupe was absurd, naughty and endlessly quotable. Coming 17 years later, the crowdfunded sequel “Super Troopers 2” is a whole lot more of the same, resplendent mustaches and all. But have I grown up? Or is it that Broken Lizard hasn’t? Because the second time around is an exercise in diminishing returns.
The wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that funded the sequel proves the audience is still there for “Super Troopers,” but will fans get a return on their investment? Broken Lizard might still squeeze into their uniforms, but the nearly two decades of wear and tear on their schtick is really starting to show.
This time, the boys of the Vermont Highway Patrol, disgraced and working as construction workers after something referred to as the “Fred Savage incident,” are tapped by the governor of Vermont (Lynda Carter) to head up a transition team to bring a small Canadian village under the American flag after a border reassessment. When the prank-obsessed crew meets their mounted Canadian rivals, an all-out war ensues. They also stumble on some smuggled contraband items, so the story has a modicum of “police work.”
Co-star and director Jay Chandrasekhar and his co-stars and co-writers Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske apply a loose formula to “Super Troopers 2”: wordplay, physical comedy, drugs, occasional nudity, some kind of a brawl every 15 minutes and a cacophonous rock soundtrack that jackhammers away annoyingly in every scene.
The complicated sexual politics of the Broken Lizard style come fully to the surface in “Super Troopers 2” — perhaps watching it now offers a different lens with which to see it, or perhaps they just leaned way too hard on homophobic and sexist material. In exploring the rituals of this rigidly homosocial space, the film is rife with gay panic, and come on guys, it’s 2018. We have marriage equality. “Queer Eye” is a hit, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is on VH1. Did you think “CPR is kissing” jokes were going to fly? Every prank is some male-on-male sexual violation to squeal and scream “ew!,” in some sort of bizarre heterosexuality contest. It’s like being trapped in a dark room with a bunch of very loud eighth-grade boys. Except eighth-grade boys these days are probably way more enlightened.
The rampant sexism throughout is also worthy of note. We start off with some aggressive jokes about ogling women’s bodies, move on to sex bets and end up with a running gag about Thorny (Chandrasekhar) developing a dependence on Canadian female Viagra. Side effects include lactation, hair loss, unreasonable crankiness and a bad sense of direction while driving. Yes, it’s wildly offensive, but also so corny and outdated you almost feel bad for them.
However, the Canadians get it the worst. Broken Lizard take a page from Kevin Smith’s book and use Canada as the country “safe” enough to pillory with national stereotypes and horrible accents. If it were any other country, the film would be boycotted. But even before the bad French accents are trotted out, it’s almost impossible to decipher the language of “Super Troopers 2,” a rapid-fire jumble of groan-worthy puns, vulgarities and insults, delivered with the highest level of sarcasm — with the exception of Heffernan, who remains fully committed to inhabiting the antagonist Farva, and the only performer worth watching.
Have I changed so much that I can’t find this funny anymore? Nah. Broken Lizard hasn’t changed enough to keep up with the times, turning in a badly degraded copy of the original. Stale, unfunny and offensive is quite the hat trick.
‘Super Troopers 2’ (1 star)
Everyone’s favorite law enforcement team is back by popular demand with the long anticipated follow up to the cult comedy classic.
Rated: R, for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug material and some graphic nudity.
Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Meridian, Pacific Place, Seattle 10, Thornton Place Stadium, Woodinville, Cascade Mall