Rated R - Running Time: 1:43 - Released 2/15/02

Although Jay Chandrasekhar's Super Troopers is little more than another teen-aimed, boys-will-be-boys comedy, there is something to be said for a good writing team. The film's 5 stars and co-writers, who go by the group name "Broken Lizard" (director Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske), seem to think with one mind, and they work together onscreen like 5 college buddies who get together every Friday night (and in fact, they reportedly all graduated together from Colgate University). Their collective effort comes off with the kind of sick, twisted, but often hilarious character-driven results one sees in Kevin Smith's Jersey Films. Having only produced one previous film so far (1996's Puddle Cruiser, which was never given wide release but seen at some college campuses), the team shows great promise in the guilty pleasure category.

The small town of Spurbury, Vermont, is in budget trouble. The governor is forced to make cutbacks, so she has announced the imminent dissolution of the local state police highway patrol facility, unless by some miracle their commander, Capt. John O'Hagan (Brian Cox), can prove their worth. But this isn't an easy task, since they seem to be a bunch of fun-loving good-old-boys who get more enjoyment out of messing with motorists' minds than upholding the law. Their ranking officer is Lt. "Thorny" Ramathorn (Chandrasekhar), who is currently training rookie Cpl. "Rabbit" Roto (Stolhanske) to chug maple syrup at the local diner. Then there are Womack (Lemme) and Foster (Soter), long-time partners who like to harass stoners on the highway and bet on how many times they can say "meow" during a routine speeding stop. Finally, there is the team's whipping boy, overweight Cpl. Rodney Farva (Heffernan), whose recent probation for beating up a school bus full of disrespectful elementary students is only the latest of a long line of suspensions that keep him off the road most of the time.

Besides the fact that these guys regularly break the rules for the sheer fun of it, they are in constant competition with the similarly thick-headed and ineffective local Spurbury police force, run by the unforgiving Chief Grady (Daniel von Bargen), who wants nothing more than to see the Highway Patrol shut down, as it will increase his budget. On his force is the comely female officer, Ursula Hanson (Marisa Coughlan), nicknamed "Charlie's Angel," who is the object of most of the aforementioned men's fantasies, but who is trying to build respect for her efforts as a serious officer.

When a drug bust is made and a murder discovered, the two organizations jockey for position, resulting in a kind of jurisdiction war. But when Ursula and Foster become romantically involved, she helps him uncover some otherwise unknown information so that he and his friends may impress the governor with their investigative skills. As it turns out, however, she is only using Foster and the guys to expose her own boss in a much larger scandal.

This is one of those films that makes movie critics embarassed to admit they liked it without first smoking a joint. Like South Park or the American Pie films, it provides the kind of guilty laughs that can only be achieved through a marriage of intelligent writing skills and a sick sense of humor. But one cannot deny the chemistry of these guys, whose ability to deliver their wacked-out dialogue matches their ability to write it. We'll be looking for other Broken Lizard films in the future, but remind me to smoke a joint next time. ***½

Copyright 2002 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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