You’re either in the bag for Super Troopers 2 or you aren’t, and you’ve been in or out of the bag since around the time the first Super Troopers opened in theaters. Rationalizing your like or dislike of the Broken Lizard cult classic is a fool’s errand. Comedy, after all, is the most subjective form of entertainment: Maybe watching a group of guys perform prototypically guyish feats of doltish abandon for an hour and some change is your idea of a good time, or maybe you’d rather watch something, anything, absent of dick and fart jokes.
If the former, then Super Troopers 2 is the release valve for laughter you’ve been waiting for since 2001. Juvenile is as juvenile does, but the Broken Lizard fellows supplement their puerile nonsense with abiding endearment. They’re idiots, but sincere, disarming idiots. Like the characters they play in both movies, they mean well, but meaning well comes in second to antics when spending your career making concerted efforts to avoid responsibility. If you must understand Lizard psychology, read Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys, because they very much fit the definition of “guy.” A man in uniform will enforce laws per the oath of his office. A guy in uniform will play practical jokes on unsuspecting motorists after pulling them over either for workaday offenses, like speeding or driving with expired stickers, or to stave off boredom.
How else do you expect to keep a beat like highway patrol exciting? Super Troopers 2 is effectively an update on Super Troopers, reshaped by an older man’s lens. Once more, the plot involves a drug-pushing scheme discovered and investigated by unserious dudes tasked with pretending they’re serious enough to justify their worth as policemen. The difference is that the dudes have aged 17 years between now and their last adventure. Finding motivation for hijinx is a challenge when your irrepressible desire for hijinx has been scrubbed away by the passage of time, the loss of your personal pride and an undisclosed incident that ended in the demise of Fred Savage. Turns out the troopers had no sooner escaped obsolescence than they inadvertently killed Kevin Arnold.
So we meet them at the start of Super Troopers 2, working odd jobs and even odder jobs: Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske) and Mac (Steve Lemme) have begrudgingly partnered with Farva (Kevin Heffernan) in the construction game, while Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar, also resuming duties as director) chops down trees for a living, and Foster (Paul Soter) appears to be in between gigs, though at least he’s still with Ursula (Marisa Coughlan), even if Ursula scarcely appears in the film. The boys get together for a fishing trip, nothing out of the ordinary, with their old captain, O’Hagan (Brian Cox), which happens to be a ruse. O’Hagan has a way to get them all back in their roles as troopers. It seems that a chunk of Canadian land bordering Vermont actually belongs to the United States, so the gang is brought back to the force to help facilitate the international transition.
Of course, they prove themselves the worst candidates for the job with breathtaking speed. To their credit, they don’t blow it immediately: They try to win over the locals (who hate them), act professionally toward the Mounties (Will Sasso, Tyler Labine, Hayes MacArthur) they’re replacing (who also hate them) and play nice with Guy Le Franc (Rob Lowe), the mayor of the town being absorbed in the expansion (who doesn’t hate them as much as he loves taking the piss out of them). It’s a culture clash! On one side, the Americans, constantly bagging on those pancake-addicted, Rush-loving, hockey-obsessed Canadians who worship Tim Horton. On the other, the Canadians, battering the Americans with substantial body blows about our crappy healthcare and our refusal to use the metric system like every other civilized society.
The gags write themselves, which would be dull coming from a troupe with lesser credentials in the field of “dumb comedy,” but frankly you’re not here to see Canada jokes updated for today. You’re here to see those jokes told in the amiably dimwitted style of Broken Lizard, because you know they’ll play the hits and follow them up with escalating absurdity and mayhem. The guys get buried in penis during a strip club melee, they kidnap and impersonate Mounties for fun and vengeance, they run afoul of hungry grizzly bears and they get stoned on a cache of mystery pills with varying effects. The last of these should tip you off to where they get most of the inspiration for their ideas from, but unlike most people under the influence, the stuff they find funny when intoxicated tends to be funny to anyone with a love of unabashed stupidity. When your ethos is “try in earnest to make each other laugh,” as the Lizards laugh, we laugh with them.
Grant that there’s not much more to Super Troopers 2 than guys behaving badly, albeit harmlessly. You’ll need a microscope to find allegory about policing in 2018, and even then you won’t find much: There’s little policing done here, and what policing there usually occurs between, well, the police. Sticking with the spirit of the first movie means ducking social commentary—or any kind of commentary, really, apart from commentary on the drastic lengths men will go to for their own amusement.
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Writer: Broken Lizard
Starring: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rob Lowe, Will Sasso, Tyler Labine, Hayes MacArthur, Brian Cox, Lynda Carter, Paul Walter Hauser, Jim Gaffigan
Release Date: April 20, 2018
Boston-based culture writer Andy Crump has been writing about film and television online since 2009, and has been contributing to Paste since 2013. He also writes words for The Playlist,WBUR’s The ARTery, Slant Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, Polygon, Thrillist, The Week, and Vulture, and is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. You can follow him on Twitter and find his collected writing at his personal blog. He is composed of roughly 65% craft beer.