February 28, 2002

Super Obnoxious

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From the Zucker brothers to National Lampoon, comedic teams have been some of the best sources of traditional, gut-busting slob comedies throughout the history of American film. But the newest players on the field — going by the name of Broken Lizard — aren’t able to put forth more than a sorry, second rate attempt at reaching the level of these comedy greats. Super Troopers, their new film, is simply awful.

Super Troopers opens on an anonymous stretch of Vermont highway, quickly drawing us into the bizarre world of a small band of state troopers whose police work involves harassing potheads who cruise by and smoking their confiscated weed. The super troopers get more than they bargained for when a routine traffic stop results in the discovery of a huge marijuana shipment. Their efforts to bring the bad guys to justice are thwarted by the local police department and a looming budgetary crisis. The paper-thin plot does little more than propel the film from one idiotic joke to the next. By the end of the film I could barely remember what had happened at the beginning to get the whole story rolling. That’s one memory I won’t miss.

Broken Lizard apparently thinks that throwing in a few standard romantic mix-ups and an array of lowbrow frat-boy jokes that are anything but funny makes a complete film. They’re wrong. Their brand of comedy lacks the obvious but somehow ingeniously corny gags of the classic great films in this genre. Nor does it have the edgy, sometimes stomach turning, nerve that modern slob-comedies like Scary Movie bring to the screen. Characters have been dropping joints in their laps while driving for years. Simply throwing that bit out again, without a new take, is simply boring.

The genuinely funny moments in this film are few and far between. For the most part, the humor revolves around idiotic pranks and cheesy sex jokes. The Broken Lizard writers, led by Jay Chandrasekhar — who also directed the film, co-wrote it, and plays one of the main characters, Thorny — could take a few lessons from a middle school creative writing class. I’m still trying to figure out how this picture ever got a green light.

The acting is passable–which makes sense, considering most of the main characters were also the writers. They seem to relish wallowing in the filth of their own writing with glee that no one outside the project could have possibly mustered. Not that it’s a bad thing. The laughter from the screen rang louder than the laughter from the audience.

Daniel von Bargen makes a surprise appearance as the super trooper’s local-cop nemesis, Chief Grady. It’s surprising to see an actor who probably doesn’t need this film to afford tomorrow’s meal or avoid eviction make an appearance. He brings his usual bland brand of humor to the film. Though his competent performance does little, if anything, to drag this movie out of the mire.

This film is bad, very bad. The writing is not unoriginal, but it’s not funny either. The acting isn’t bad, but crap is crap no matter how it’s read. If I wanted to wade through it, I would get a job working at a dairy instead of wasting $6.00 and an afternoon on this pile.

Final diagnosis: worst comedy ever.

Archived article by Kiah Beverly