MOTW: Five Interesting Facts About "Super Troopers"

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Super Troopers is a 2001 comedy film directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, written by and starring the Broken Lizard comedy group. Marisa Coughlan, Daniel von Bargen and Brian Cox co-star while Lynda Carter has a cameo appearance.
Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
January 28th, 2014

Officers Mac, Thorny, Foster, Rabbit and Farva are Vermont State Troopers on the verge of losing their department to the local police. This familiar movie is "Super Troopers," the box office flop that became a DVD classic. It is also the film with notorious catch phrases such as "right meow" and "liter of cola." Here are a few interesting facts about the beloved "Super Troopers" that are little-known to viewers.

Comedy Troupe

The cast of "Super Troopers" consists mainly of members of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. Broken Lizard formed in 1990 at Colgate University where its members attended college. The original cast included the entire Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Kevin Heffernan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Soter, Steve Lemme and Erik Stolhanske share the acting, writing and production duties of their movies. Heffernan and Chandrasekhar do the majority of directing; Chandrasekhar, who played Officer Thorny, won the 2001 Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival for directing "Super Troopers." He later went on to direct "The Dukes of Hazzard" in 2005 and included a tip of the hat to the highway misfits by recreating the opening scene from "Super Troopers" in "The Dukes of Hazzard." The comedy troupe has also created several low-budget films such as "Babymakers," "Freeloaders" and "Club Dread," a parody of slasher films.

Familiar Faces

There are many recognizable faces in "Super Troopers." For instance, the local Spurberry police chief Grady is played by Daniel von Bargen, who also plays a SWAT communicator in the 1991 classic "The Silence of the Lambs." The highway patrol captain John O'Hagen is played by Brian Cox, who portrays Dr. Hannibal in the 1996 film "Manhunter."

A few characters are not as well-known but definitely noteworthy. In the film, Officer Farva, played by Heffernan, pulls over a couple and calls them "chicken [expletive]," but that couple is actually his parents, who were truly not prepared for what he was about to say. Comedy fans might also recognize stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan in the infamous "meow" scene.

Finances

"Super Troopers" has made more money from DVD sales than the box office. The film netted less than $19 million in theaters and more than $65 million from subsequent video and DVD sales to become one of the most successful independent films ever. It was filmed with a $1.2 million budget and sold to Fox Searchlight for $3.25 million. "Super Troopers" brought in less than £500,000 in the United Kingdom. Opening weekend brought in the majority of the box office funds, bringing in $7 million in the United States and £269,000 in the U.K.

Reviews

While it continues to be a cult classic, "Super Troopers" still receives mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. Metacritic.com shows a score of 48/100 from critics and a user score of 8.2/10. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 35 percent, although 90 percent of users report that they like the movie. The Internet Movie Database gives it a 7.1/10, and renowned film critic Roger Ebert rates it at 2.5/5 stars. "Super Troopers" has a certain magnetic charm, particularly for those who enjoy comedy, but it lacks the refinement and atmosphere that critics love.

Who Needs Stunt Men?

With such a small budget, the actors in "Super Troopers" do things on their own with no stunt men or special effects. For instance, in the scene at the awards ceremony for the drug bust, Officer Farva is seen in the bathroom vomiting. Unkown to most viewers, this is actually Kevin Heffernan throwing up, and the shot can be seen in the closing credits and bonus material as well.

A scene in the beginning of the film shows the highway patrol officers chugging syrup in a diner. Although the scene was originally shot using thickened iced tea in syrup bottles, this did not look real enough. Consequently, the close-up shots in the final cut reveal the officers drinking actual maple syrup.

During the baseball game scene of "Super Troopers," the set-up leads to Ursula smashing a hard snow cone on Foster, played by Soter. After Soter was hit in the head with an icy snow cone several times, the team decided to switch to a softer ice cream cone.

The popularity of the film "Super Troopers" seems to have only increased since its release on DVD. Although it was never considered a box office hit or critic's choice, "Super Troopers" has accumulated such a fan base that it was decided to release a sequel more than a decade later. The hilarious one-liners from "Super Troopers" are still repeated by fans to this day, especially by college kids. Only time will tell if the success of "Super Troopers" can be duplicated in its upcoming sequel.