Audiences that found “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” too demanding may relish “Super Troopers 2.” I’m not sure what other sort of viewer would share the appreciation.
The sequel is a long-gestating follow-up to 2001’s cult curio about five inept Vermont Highway Patrol troopers, played, written and filmed by the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. Like bologna 16 years past its use-by date, the material hasn’t aged well. It is a collection of witless, puerile gags that you would find funny if you are amused by a bow tie that spins like a propeller. Partly paid for by fans who contributed to the production’s Indiegogo online begging cup, it’s proof that there’s no accounting for taste. Or lack thereof.
But what of the film, you ask. I was hoping to avoid that. All right, here we go.
As usual, when comedies run out of material at home base, the story moves abroad. Here, the border crosses the guards rather than the opposite. A flaw in the old maps dividing Canada from the United States repositions thousands of our Quebec neighbors in American control, resulting in a hit or miss mess of pranks, tomfoolery and cross-cultural shenanigans. Did you know that kilometers are different than miles? The world is crazy, right?
Many of the jokes center on the fact that Canadians are much more open than Americans about strippers, cannabis and French accents. The State Police develop a rivalry with the Mounties they just replaced, travel around in their red uniforms on horseback and try to solve a local drug mystery. Much of their time is spent harassing drivers at traffic stops and setting up pranks against the opposing squad or within their own. If you enjoy seeing people electrocuted for comic effect, dig in.
Idiotic behavior by law enforcement may have peaked with the inspired blockheadedness of Leslie Nielsen’s police Detective Frank Drebin in the “Naked Gun” series spun off TV’s “Police Squad!” Those set an innovative and hilarious standard that the new film’s title characters can’t approach. A fair number of the jokes are callbacks to ones in the first film. Surprise is humor’s elixir of life, and this is largely by the nostalgic book.
The title characters Mac (Steve Lemme), Thorny (director Jay Chandrasekhar), Foster (Paul Soter), Farva (Kevin Heffernan) and Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske, a Minneapolis native and Breck School alum) are one-dimensional at best. This one is a chubby braggart, that one has a Village People size mustache and they all are foolish in ways short of being enjoyably goofy.
The film’s new arrivals include Rob Lowe using a deliberately atonal Gallic accent as the mayor of Vermont’s newly acquired parcel, and Fred Savage as Fred Savage. There are return appearances from cast members of the earlier film. Brian Cox, richly talented and in a game mood, returns as the men’s fatherly chief, Capt. O’Hagan, and Lynda Carter again plays Gov. Jessman, presenting herself at each public appearance as if she’s in a news conference.
Jim Gaffigan does a minute-long reprise of his character in the first film, a driver stopped while one of the troopers messed with him by meowing for his license. And Minnesota native Marisa Coughlan returns for a tiny cameo as Ursula, the hot motorcycle officer introduced a decade and a half earlier, saying a brief hello before U-turning her chopper and roaring off.
Stuck watching the rest of “Super Troopers 2,” I envied their rapid getaways.