(On Cable TV, January 2019) The Troopers are back for more silliness in Super Troopers 2, with the Broken Lizard comedy troupe offering more of their specific sense of humour. This time, nothing less than national sovereignty is at stake, as an old surveying error leads to the American border being repositioned to take up a slice of Canadian land. In the meantime, the disgraced Troopers are asked to set up a Highway Patrol outpost in the contested zone. While the plotting has a few moments (“passive smuggling” is a clever concept), the point of Super Troopers 2 is, once again, the low-brow humour milking the Trooper’s stupidity, propensity to pranks and overall sociopathy. Those who loved the first film will like the second, even though it feels more calculated and less funny than it could have been. As a Canadian viewer, I had a lot of fun with the various unflattering stereotypes and dumb jokes playing off the difference between the US and Canada—even if some of the details ring patently false. As a low-budget film, it’s best not to expect too much from the result, although director Jay Chandrasekhar does manage a few convincing set-pieces along the way. I suppose I could make a half-hearted cultural representation argument that few of the French-Canadian actors are played by French-Canadians, but I don’t even believe that to be a problem, especially not when steps in Rob Lowe and Emmanuelle Chiriqui (who, upon verification, was actually born in Montréal). Super Troopers 2 is not meant to be watched for a nuanced take on cross-cultural issues when there are dumb jokes to be made, and the best we can say is that it’s definitely in the same vein as its predecessor, often funnier than the similar French-Canadian Bon Cop Bad Cop 2, and entertaining enough if you’re in the right mindset.
(On Cable TV, October 2014) Complaining about a Jay Chandrasekhar comedy being crass is a bit redundant, but here goes anyway: The Babymakers goes quickly from an amiable comedy to a vulgar one, then hops back and forth between the two stances in ways that seem more accidental than deliberate. It’s supposed to be about a couple trying to conceive (itself a subject that shouldn’t be treated lightly), but it quickly aims for the lowest common denominator in setting up a sperm bank heist. With a subject like that, you can imagine the gross-outs that inevitably follow. It’s not that the film is lacking in laughs, or that it’s entirely without charm: Paul Schneider is a fairly good leading man, while Olivia Munn isn’t too bad in a still-rare feature film leading role. (Alas, their married-couple banter feels more like a frat-boy’s idea of a perfect marriage, but that’s roughly equal to the rest of the film.) The rest of the supporting cast is there for laughs, and Chandrasekhar himself gets a few chuckles as a seedy fixer. Still, there are often lulls, ill-advised subplots (such as the unnecessarily-mean gay couple segment), a weak conclusion and scenes that don’t reach either for credibility or zany humor. As a result, The Babymakers may not be terrible, but it’s not any good either, and it doesn’t have the spark of charm that’s required for transforming a mediocre comedy into a likable one.
(On DVD, September 2011) I watched this while in the mood for some dumb silliness, and got what I wanted: Super Troopers’s big comic premise is to transpose frat-boy antics onto a police context: Bored patrolmen playing head games with motorists, dumb policemen flying off in a rage, duelling corps trying to one-up each other. There really isn’t much more to this film. On the other hand, well, it does manage to be sporadically funny … and ten years later, Super Troopers still live on in internet pop culture in a series of memes and in-jokes. (“meow”, “mother of god” and “enhance –just print it” are the three that come up from time to time) Anything with even the slightest bit of pop-culture relevance after ten years is worth a quick look. The Broken Lizard comedy troupe that conceived Super Troopers is uneven: writer/director Jay Chandrasekhar is very funny, but many of the other either struggle to make an impression, or make a negative one. Production notes suggest that the budget of the film was ridiculously low, but it doesn’t show too much: while this is a low-budget film, its lack of funding doesn’t feel all that obtrusive. Perhaps the best thing about Super Troopers is that, for all of its self-indulgence in showcasing a comedy group in a deliberately dumb setting, it’s decently structured and, as a result, survives without too much trouble even a decade later. Small praise, but we can all remember far dumber comedies that are nigh-unwatchable even with the best viewers’ intentions.