Comedy sequels are notoriously difficult, so judging Super Troopers 2 against other sequels, the film is a success. It’s consistently funny, fairly clever, and still maintains the charm of the original movie. However, compared directly to the original film, the sequel falls short, as comedy sequels are wont to do. But there is a caveat to that statement. The first Super Troopers wasn’t an out-the-gate classic either. It’s the rare movie that just gets better with repeat viewings, and I can’t help but wonder if that will also be the case with Super Troopers 2. Broken Lizard—the comedy group consisting of stars Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske—are masters of the throwaway line, and you usually can’t pick those up until the second, third, or even fourth go-round. Thankfully, Super Troopers 2 is good enough that you’ll be willing to give it future viewings.
Picking up fifteen years after the original, former Vermont highway patrol officers Thorny (Chandrasekhar), Mac (Lemme), Farva (Hefernan), Rabbit (Stolhanske), and Foster (Soter) were kicked out of the Spurbury Police Department for an incident involving Fred Savage. However, they get a second chance when it turns out that the border between Vermont and Canada is in dispute, and a group of officers is needed to patrol the new American territory. However, they meet with resistance not only with the locals, but also with the Mounties who previously oversaw the town. Their lives are further complicated when they stumble upon smuggled goods that seem to be tied to the upcoming changeover from Canada to America.
But the plot just provides a loose rationale, like the first movie, for shenanigans (or “chicanery” as they say up in Canada, apparently). The loose framework allows Broken Lizard to set up a series of interconnected sketches whether it’s a dream sequence that goes awry or a beatdown at a strip club or the antics of pulling people over and playing games with the drivers. Surprisingly, Super Troopers 2 is a little more single-minded in its comedy, finding no shortage of jokes to make at the expense of Canada and the imagined version of a hostile Canada.
The Canada jokes are what make Super Troopers 2 so difficult to judge. The big jokes are kind of focused on how Canada is silly, and yet it won’t be until repeat viewings where you’ll see other jokes get to shine. One great bit involves the Mounties arguing about the movies of Danny DeVito, and it’s a great bit that’s divorced from, “Hey, Canadians are mostly harmless, but what if they weren’t?” When it goes back to the Canada well, it feels like Broken Lizard is mining for jokes that others have already done rather than doing the weird, offbeat comedy where they excel. The same goes for when Thorny starts taking female hormone pills and starts acting feminine. We’ve seen that joke countless time in other movies and sitcoms, so it’s bizarre why they would bother to include it here.
The camaraderie among the guys is still present, and to the movie’s credit, it doesn’t make too many references to the first movie. Super Troopers 2 is clearly conscious of making jokes that will work for the sequel rather than just empty callbacks that will remind people of a movie they already like. But judging by the reaction of the crowd I saw it with (and granted, it was packed with people who love the first movie) the sequel is in no danger of sitting in the shadow of the original. I still prefer to the first Super Troopers (which, to be fair, has the advantage of providing 16 years of laughs), but there’s nothing particularly wrong with the sequel, and there are some terrific gags that had me roaring with laughter.
It all just comes back to the challenge of fairly evaluating a Broken Lizard comedy on a first viewing when so many of their jokes are buried and need to be unearthed. On a first viewing Super Troopers 2 at least manages to avoid many of the pitfalls that harm other comedy sequels. Whether it will sit alongside the original with terrific throwaway lines like “The lice hate the sugar,” and outlandish moments like, “Move that gigantic cotton candy!” remains to be seen.