The Broken Lizards (including Paul Soter, Kevin Heffernan, Erik Stolhanske, Jay Chandrasekhar, and Steve Lemme) began as an undergraduate comedy troupe at Colgate University in 1989, following up their little-seen 1996 film, "Puddle Cruiser," with the bigger-budgeted, more widely accessible "Super Troopers." With the thinnest of plots and one clever hook--immature, bored highway patrolmen who entertain themselves by goofing with the people they stop--"Super Troopers" plays like a long series of skits whose comedy is a whole lot funnier to the filmmakers and actors than it is to the viewer.
The story, or lack thereof, concerns a group of jokey state troopers in Spurbury, Vermont, whose bitter rivals are the city police. When a dead body is discovered in a Winnebago and drug smuggling is suspected, the two forces go head-to-head in their investigations. Meanwhile, the state troop's jobs are threatened with the impending visit from the governor (Lynda Carter), who they suspect may cut them off in favor of the cheaper city cops unless they manage to do something extraordinary while in her presence.
"Super Troopers" incorporates a few amusing gags into a wildly uneven movie that takes a single good idea, and creates with it infinitely more misses than hits on the joke meter. Director Chandrasekhar also doesn't know when to quit, stretching the already-anemic material out to a long 103 minutes. With the press kit falsely touting "a laugh every six seconds," the laughs really come, perhaps, once ever sixteen minutes. The opening sequence, for example, in which three stoner friends are confused and accosted by the scheming patrolmen, grasps several big laughs out of the novel idea. Tellingly, the next funny moment doesn't come for quite a while later.
Except for Kevin Heffernan, as the overweight, constantly put-upon Farva, and Paul Soter, as nice guy Foster, the five Broken Lizard performers unsuccessfully create distinctive characters, with the actions blending in with each other. The screenplay, written by all five of them, is a cut-and-paste job that offers little in the way of memorability. Faring better is Brian Cox (1999's "The Corruptor
"), as Capt. John O'Hagan, who gets several outrageous moments in the second half after getting drunk with his coworkers. Marisa Coughlan (2001's "Freddy Got Fingered
"), as city trooper Ursula, is cute in the obligatory romantic love interest role.
"Super Troopers" ultimately plays like a weak episode of "Saturday Night Live," with a few isolated moments working extraordinarily well in a sea of embarrassingly asinine jokes that fall flat. One can imagine how the premise could be reworked for a good television sitcom, and preliminary plans for such are already in the works. As a film, however, "Super Troopers" simply isn't worth your time, destined to go down as 2002's answer to 1992's Kristy Swanson flop, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," before it was turned into the successful Sarah Michelle Gellar series.
©2002 by Dustin Putman