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" Looks like Spielberg’s work "
— Will Smith, Men in Black II

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An exercise in atmosphere, with some really inspired surrealism —John Adams (DVD review...)

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Watching the credits roll, I thought Super Troopers deserved a mildly negative review. I didn’t laugh enough at this comedy. But thinking about the movie now, almost a week later, I’m tempted to recommend it. Something about it stuck with me and left me amused.

Ensemble Comedy

Steve Lemme's ready to take one in the crotchSuper Troopers is the collective effort of a comedy troupe known as Broken Lizard. It is clear they are a team. Their camaraderie is unmistakable. Their characters are five friends who hang around playing jokes on each other, and you can tell, just by watching, that their off-screen lives are no different. Their comedy style is post-college American Red Green or Monty Python, or maybe a homegrown version of SNL or Mad TV.

Like those comedy TV shows, Super Troopers is a collection of skits. These skits are bottled in a plot involving a rivalry between the Vermont state troopers and the Sudbury city police. The troopers’ funding is on the line, so they must impress the governor (Lynda Carter in a cameo appearance) when she comes through town. There’s also a love story, a sort of Romeo-and-Juliet romance between one of the troopers and a local cop.

Five of a Kind

Our heroes are the five troopers. There’s a rookie (Erik Stolhandske), a wild man (Steve Lemme), a restrained leader (Jay Chandrasekhar), a lazy boy (Paul Soter), and a fifth wheel with no sense of subtlety (Kevin Heffernan). This is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

The five troopers are a group of frat-boy dropouts, boys in men’s bodies. They have drinking contests involving Vermont Brew (maple syrup), and they amuse themselves by abusing their positions of authority. They have a repertoire of mind games they like to play on unsuspecting motorists, including “The Cat” and “Repeat.” When they pull over the clearly-stoned college kids for possession, they throw a little surrealism into their act.

The more I think about it, the more funny this seems. It’s interesting that I didn’t like it as well immediately following the movie. Perhaps I was turned off by some of the more crude, lewd, and nude humor — there’s plenty of that as well.

Maybe my ambivalence will help you decide whether to see Super Troopers. You probably already know whether you think the shenanigans of five grown men letting their adolescence hang out is funny. I’m still trying to decide.