Our review of Super Troopers (Blu-Ray), published December 18th, 2008, is also available.
Altered State Police
One of the biggest and brightest breeding grounds for hot up-and-coming comics are improv groups. The Second City and The Groundlings have paved the way for such famous movie faces as Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Phil Hartman, and Chris Kattan. Often these improv shows are notorious for their off-kilter, weird sense of humor. In 2002, Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) were given free reign to act like idiots in their cinematic debut Super Troopers. Also starring Brian Cox (Rushmore), Daniel Von Bargen (The Faculty), and Marisa Coughlan (Teaching Ms. Tingle), Broken Lizard's Super Troopers speeds up onto DVD care of Fox Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Captain O'Hagen (Cox) has a big problem on his hands: his Vermont state troopers department is in dire straits of being shut down! It seems that there just isn't enough crime to go around, and something's gotta give! O'Hagen's rival comes in the form of the city police department, led by the grating Chief Grady (Daniel Von Bargen, Lord of Illusions). After a dead body turns up in a camper, the two police forces come into competition for clues, leads, and solutions to the vicious crime. O'Hagen's troopers consist of a group of rag-tag smart asses and pranksters that includes a chunky red neck (Kevin Heffernan), a cool headed African American whose nationality seems a mystery to everyone around him (Jay Chandrasekhar, also the film's director), a mustached hunk (Steve Lemme), a goofy ladies' man (Paul Soter), and the cocky rookie (Erik Stolhanske). In the grand vein of Police Academy comes the most insane set of peace officers this side of the nuthouse!
Super Troopers was a modest hit at the box office in comparison to its $3 million price tag (it drummed up about $18 million upon its theatrical run). Apparently someone out there is still in the mood for a comedy that features a fat man being deloused and another guy jammed into a locker full of shaving cream. Har-har. Super Troopers includes both of these jokes and more. In fact, the whole movie is just an excuse for these guys to do bizarre things to the poor citizens of Vermont.
The movie was directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (say that five times fast), who also stars as one of the officers. Chandrasekhar ends up being the funniest guy in this group of clowns; he's got good comedic timing and knows how to get a laugh from just one dead-pan stare (and let's be honest…the way cops act they deserve to be lampooned). His companions all have a fine screen presence. Sadly, it's not the performances that break this film—it's the screenplay. As I watched the movie I wondered if the script was actually written beforehand, or of the troupe just improvised much of the comedy along the way. Either way, this screenplay was in serious need of rewrites.
There are a few funny moments to be found here. I liked the hotheaded cop who tries to order a bacon double cheeseburger and gets into a rumble with this pipsqueak counter guy over a verbal snafu. There are also a few funny exchanges between the cops and their victims, especially when they pull over a few stoned kids and mess with their minds. And a few smatterings of dialogue come off as humorous, like this transaction between a few of the officers:
O'Hagen: "Did you put in for a transfer yet?"
But the fact still remains that Super Troopers is not a fall-down-laughing type of movie. There aren't enough witty one-liners to make up for the excess of slapstick, and some of the jokes are just too weird to be funny. It's a shame to see Brain Cox's talents wasted on such drivel (from Hannibal Lecter to Rushmore to this?), and Marisa Coughlan just keeps making crappy movie after crappy movie (Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Freddy Got Fingered, and now this…her career should be dead within two years).
After all is said and done, the fact remains that comedy is a subjective genre. It could be that I just wasn't in the mood for Broken Lizard's brand of humor…or to watch two grown men chug bottles of maple syrup. To quote Almond Joy and Mounds, "some days you feel like a nut, and some days you don't." I guess today was a "don't." If you want my recommendation for a comedy troupe flick, I'd check out the more amusing Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy for some hearty laughs. Otherwise, Super Troopers doesn't live up to its title.
Super Troopers is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Columbia's work on this transfer is top-notch—nary a lick of dirt of edge enhancement show up during the film's 103 minute running time. The colors all appear to be solid and even with the flesh tones natural and bright. The only problem I spotted was a quick flash of pixelation, and that's about it. Overall, this is a very clean image and a commendable job by the studio.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English and French. I was somewhat surprised at how good this 5.1 mix was for such a low budget comedy. First off, there isn't a hint of hiss or distortion in any of the dialogue, effects, or music. Secondly, there are actually some surround effects during a few key scenes! How exciting! And thirdly…uh, that's about it. The soundtrack supports the film very well, and sometimes that's all you can ask for. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles, as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtrack in Spanish.
Fans are gonna be pleased as punch when they find out that Super Troopers includes with a few bonus supplements, which is more than this film really deserves. Starting off this disc are two commentaries, one by Jay Chandrasekhar and Erik Stolhanske and a second by Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, and Steve Lemme. As expected, each of the commentaries is just a chance for the troupe members to throw a few more gags at the unsuspecting audience. The first track with Chandrasekhar and Stolhanske tends to lean more towards the technical side of the film while the second track with Heffernan, Soter, and Lemme is far more entertaining.
Next up are a series of outtakes and deleted scenes from the film that feature multiple commentaries by the Broken Lizard troupe. These are divided up into four different sections: "Outtakes Reel," "Pot Outtakes and Opening Car Chase," "Helping out Grady's Nephew and Rabbit in the Garage," and "Slap a Burger Guy and Politicians Who are Donkeys." All of these scenes are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and will be as funny as you found the film. In other words, if you liked the movie you'll like these, and if you didn't…well, you get the picture. There are a few humorous moments among the outtakes, though otherwise they get old pretty quickly.
Finally there is a very short "making of" featurette that adds absolutely nothing to one's knowledge of the film (it's like one extended trailer for the movie), a "Road Trip Newswarap" that briefly follows the Broken Lizard group to a few locations on a bus, and a theatrical trailer for the film.
Super Troopers just wasn't my cup of tea. But hey, if you enjoy watching guys in steel jock straps getting shot in the gonads, by all means buy or rent this movie.
Found guilty of police and comedy corruption! The book shall be thrown…
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