Like many of a certain age, I was a fan of Broken Lizard's 2001 stoner cop cult classic "Super Troopers," which circulated smoky dorm rooms in the early aughts. The energetic, silly and wordy comedy of the then-unknown troupe was absurd, naughty and endlessly quotable.
Seventeen years later, the crowdfunded sequel, "Super Troopers 2," is a whole lot more of the same, resplendent mustaches and all. But have I grown up? Or is it that Broken Lizard hasn't? Because the second time around is an exercise in diminishing returns.
The wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that funded the sequel proves the audience is still there for "Super Troopers," but will fans get a return on their investment? The members of Broken Lizard might still squeeze into their uniforms, but the nearly two decades of wear and tear on their shtick is really starting to show.
This time, the boys of the Vermont Highway Patrol, disgraced and working construction after something referred to as the "Fred Savage incident," are tapped by the governor (Lynda Carter) to head up a transition team to bring a small Canadian village under the American flag after a border reassessment. When the prank-obsessed crew members meet their mounted Canadian rivals, an all-out war ensues. They also stumble on some smuggled contraband items, so the story has a modicum of "police work."
Costar and director Jay Chandrasekhar and his costars and cowriters — Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske — apply a loose formula to "Super Troopers 2": wordplay, physical comedy, drugs, occasional nudity, a brawl every 15 minutes and a cacophonous rock soundtrack that jackhammers away annoyingly in every scene.
The complicated sexual politics of the Broken Lizard style come fully to the surface in "Super Troopers 2" — perhaps watching it now offers a different lens with which to see it, or perhaps the troupe just leaned way too hard on homophobic and sexist material.
So the film is rife with gay panic. Come on, guys — it's 2018. We have marriage equality. "Queer Eye" is a hit, "RuPaul's Drag Race" is on VH1. Did you think "CPR is kissing" jokes were going to fly? Every prank is some male-on-male sexual violation to squeal and scream "eww!" in some sort of bizarre heterosexuality contest. It's like being trapped in a dark room with a bunch of very loud eighth-grade boys. Except eighth-grade boys these days are probably way more enlightened.
The rampant sexism is also worthy of note. We start off with some aggressive jokes about ogling women's bodies, move on to sex bets and end up with a running gag about Thorny (Chandrasekhar) developing a dependence on Canadian female Viagra. Side effects include lactation, hair loss, unreasonable crankiness and a bad sense of direction while driving. Yes, it's wildly offensive, but it's also so corny and outdated that you almost feel bad for them.
However, the Canadians get it the worst. Broken Lizard takes a page from Kevin Smith's book and uses Canada as the country "safe" enough to pillory with national stereotypes and horrible accents. If it were any other country, the film would be boycotted. But even before the bad French accents are trotted out, it's almost impossible to decipher the language of "Super Troopers 2," a rapid-fire jumble of groan-worthy puns, vulgarities and insults, delivered with the highest level of sarcasm — with the exception of Heffernan, who remains fully committed to inhabiting the antagonist Farva, and the only performer worth watching.
Have I changed so much that I can't find this funny anymore? Nah. Broken Lizard hasn't changed enough to keep up with the times, turning in a badly degraded copy of the original. Stale, unfunny and offensive is quite the hat trick.
‘Super Troopers 2'
Rating: R, for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug material and some graphic nudity
Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Playing: In general release