[Screen It]

(2002) (Jay Chandrasekhar, Brian Cox) (R)

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Comedy: Some wild and crazy Vermont state troopers try to prevent their department from being closed and their jurisdiction being given to the local police force.
Thorny (JAY CHANDRASEKHAR), Foster (PAUL SOTER), Mac (STEVE LEMME) and rookie Rabbit (ERIK STOLHANSKE) are all Vermont state troopers known for their wild and crazy antics that include messing around with drivers they pull over.

Their behavior doesn't sit well with fellow trooper Farva (KEVIN HEFFERNAN), who's usually on suspension from Captain O'Hagan (BRIAN COX), or the local police force, run by Chief Grady (DANIEL VON BARGEN), that wants them shut down and control of their jurisdiction.

When they get word that their latest stunt will cause Governor Jessman (LYNDA CARTER) to order that to happen, the men try to figure out how to prevent that, all while Foster becomes involved with the enemy in the name of Officer Ursula Hanson (MARISA COUGHLAN), a desk jockey for the local police.

OUR TAKE: 0 out of 10
When I hear the term "Broken Lizard," various things come to mind. I can imagine a technician using it to refer to a malfunctioning dinosaur robot at Universal Studios' "Jurassic Park" ride. Then again, it might be the phrase that kids would use when they'd see one of those reptiles whose tails break off to allow it to escape from predators.

What I don't think of is a comedy troupe that's just made their first, nationally released movie. Apparently, though, that's just what I'm supposed to do according to Fox Searchlight Pictures as they're touting their latest "comedy," "Super Troopers," as coming from a five-man ensemble oddly named after damaged reptiles (as in "Omigod, Broken Lizard has just made a film. Let's see it 10 times!").

If you're unfortunate to see it once, however, it's unlikely that all of the money in the world could persuade you to watch it again - with your eyes open and sans any sort of anti-psychotic medication - let alone 9 more times.

That's because while fans and/or family members and friends of Broken Lizard - namely Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan (who all previously appeared together in their barely seen first effort, "Puddle Cruiser") - may be generous enough to act like they liked it, the rest of humanity with half a brain - and possibly even those with less -- will find this to be an abysmal and patience-trying effort at best.

Although comedy, like most things, lies in the eye and perception of the viewer or listener, this is one of those failed and forced efforts that should receive a near universal critical and public drubbing. That said, I suppose there's a smidgeon of potential in the story of a bunch of zany state troopers who enjoy comically messing with those they encounter.

After all, when they're not resourceful or gritty detectives, many law enforcement characters are often portrayed in comedies ranging from the likes of Jackie Gleason's in "Smokey and the Bandit" to the dimwits and misfits found in the "Police Academy" films.

Apparently not wanting to break with that time honored tradition, the writers (all of the Lizards) and director Chandrasekhar (the lone lizard who previously helmed them in "Puddle Cruiser") have opted for the idiotic treatment once again. I'm not sure why there aren't many, if any, sophisticated comedies about cops and such, but sophistication is not a term one could remotely apply to this feature.

Of course, there's a time and place for even dumb comedies, but only as long as they're assembled with enough imagination and smarts, and then deliver the funny goods. This film fails on both counts. That is, unless you enjoy side-splitting moments such as one of the troopers seeing how many times he can say "meow" with a straight face to someone he's pulled over, the guys chugging maple syrup from the bottle, or the repeated sights of an alleged Afghani cartoon chimp holding a banana at his crotch that suspiciously looks like part of the male anatomy.

Wait, there's more. It that doesn't have you falling from your seat, there are the bits about the trooper masturbating in his cruiser with his radar gun picking up his hand speed, the spit in the hamburger scene, the trooper wearing just a metal athletic supporter so that others can shoot him in the crotch, and a college student who hurriedly eats a great deal of pot and hallucinogenic mushrooms to get rid of the evidence when he and others are pulled over.

Perhaps the filmmakers believe viewers will have done the same and will thus find the "comedy" funny, but anyone who's less than high will probably have a hard time sitting through this. That's particularly true since the film - like most others of similar ilk - tries to infuse a plot into the proceedings. Here, it's that the troopers have learned they're going to be shut down and replaced by the local cops, and then try to do something about that. Not surprisingly, that offers little if any worthwhile humor.

The performances from the various lizards aren't funny and are only remarkable for not holding anything back and going too far over the top in manic acting. Brian Cox ("For Love of the Game," "Rushmore") and Daniel Von Bargen ("The Majestic," "Shaft") show up as competitive veteran officers, Lynda Carter (TV's "Wonder Woman") makes an unwise cameo as the Governor, and Marisa Coughlan gets this week's "fire your agent" notice for not only appearing in this film, but also the equally awful "Freddy Got Fingered" and "Gossip."

Simply put, if the thought of a man having sex with a bear in the woods (which is fake, by the way, for those who have problems with cruelty to animals which should include all humans subjected to this film) sounds like grand comedy that's right up your alley, go for it and throw away your money. If not, stay far away from this film that's anything but what its title indicates. "Super Troopers" rates as a 0 out of 10.

Reviewed January 29, 2002 / Posted February 15, 2002

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