MRR Review: "Super Troopers"

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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Rating: R
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: February 15, 2002
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
Genre: Comedy / Crime / Mystery

A perfect guy movie with all the necessary accessories, including guns, crime, cars, a little bit of romance and a lot of shenanigans, "Super Troopers" does not fail to get laughs. The action is fast, and the characters are likable. Generally, the movie's whole atmosphere is one of delight and satisfaction.

Written by the sketch comedy group "Broken Lizard," which includes Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske, "Super Troopers" is the kind of comedy with no pretension of being deep, delving into character development or cracking pearls of wisdom. It is better classified under the label of guilty pleasures, and it is bathed in that kind of humor most heartily enjoyed by teenagers. However, it is also the type of humor that most adults find immensely amusing even if they are unwilling to recognize it.

A handful of Vermont state troopers from a small town by the Canadian border are threatened with dissolution due to budget cuts at the state level. It does not help that the troopers hardly have anyone to fine on the lonely highway they patrol. Although it may be the case that they pass out so few fines because the fail to hide. They fill their time playing tricks on each other under the fatherly eye of Captain O'Hagan, played by Brian Cox, who tries to get them in line but fondly remembers his own days as a young trooper.

To make matters worse, the guys from the local police station are rooting for their demise, since this would bring about a budget increase for their department. The two law-and-order teams despise each other and are not shy about showing it.

The action packs some muscle when the state troopers stumble upon a marijuana operation and suspect it is related to a crime under investigation by the local police department. They try to use this fortunate event as an escape from their impending fate as a cut-off law enforcement division. With the willing collaboration of a young and pretty police officer named Ursula, played by Marisa Coughlan, they find out that the drug dealers are operating under the protection of the local police department. By then, however, it is too late. Their division has already been cut. Enthusiastically, they expect to be reinstated as a reward for their role in busting the marijuana operation. The finale is somewhat surprising and gratifying.

"Super Troopers" is a definite winner. The humorous lines come rapidly. The shenanigans are played one after another. Each minute leaves the watcher satisfied with no chance of boredom. This police highway patrol facility is the perfect workplace,  and it is seemingly the dream job that every guy fantasizes about. As a side note, even when they get trapped in a truck full of marijuana or enter a fight with a group of armed cops and drug dealers, nothing bad ever happens to the state troopers. The co-writers are protective of their characters and do not intend to give the film more weight than necessary to get a few laughs.

As much as a fast-paced comedy allows it and has any interest in doing it, you learn enough about the characters to find them likable. Foster, played by Paul Soter, is in love with Ursula, the young officer in the local police department. Thorny, played by Jay Chandrasekhar, has a hippy wife with swinging tendencies and fears betrayal even if he does not willingly recognize it. Favra, played by Kevin Heffernan, orders his Coke by the liter and does not generally fit the harmless prank pattern of the other state troopers, which makes the others avoid him. As for their likable element, they explain it themselves without effort. Their pranks are "cheeky and fun," as opposed to "cruel and tragic." They get their amusement from counting the times their partners say "meow" while approaching the driver of a speeding car or play the repeat game, which involves copying each other during routine stops.

However, the most compelling detail of all is that they are human. They build connections with their prisoners even when they are not the guilt-free kind. They have fun riding in confiscated cars and are not shy about abusing their authority to have some fun. It is this lightness about the movie that makes it a perfectly entertaining piece.

It is relaxing for a change to see some cop movies that pass on big explosions and create plenty of opportunities for big laughs. However, despite the seemingly small and lighthearted world they inhabit, the state troopers play a role in busting down big crimes. "Super Troopers" is perfect for filling 100 minutes with fun and putting yourself in an awesome mood.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5