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Broken Lizard make their major film debut with Super Troopers, a low budget independent comedy that mixes up goofball classics like Caddy Shack with utter crap like the Police Academy series and comes out with something that pays homage to what came before but still manages to be very much it's own beast.
The Broken Lizard comedy team (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stohlanske) comes from a sketch comedy background, having made a name for themselves by touring and performing at college campuses and comedy clubs across the country. They made a few shorts and then an underground/indy hit called Puddle Cruiser, but it wasn't until Super Troopers was purchased by Fox Searchlight at Sundance that they really got any big exposure.
The basic plot of the movie is very simple. The Super Troopers are five bored Vermont Highway Patrolmen who don't really find much excitement in their work. To keep themselves busy, they make their own fun and kill time by playing mind games with potheads and seeing how many times they can work the word 'meow' into a roadside interrogation.
When the State decides that the budget isn't there to keep the Troopers working and that the local police do all the real work, it's time for the Broken Lizard guys to swing into real cop mode and save themselves from unemployment and keep the cantankerous local police chief (Brian Cox who played Dr. Lecktor in Manhunter) from stealing all their glory. Through in a love story involving a member from each side, mix in healthy doses of frat boy humor and dirty jokes and you've basically got Super Troopers in a nutshell.
This film isn't really going to win any points for originality. There isn't much here that hasn't been done before and at times, the movie does kind of feel like a drawn out Saturday Night Live skit. That said, there are definitely enough hilarious moments in the movie, spaced out with some moderately funny material, to definitely make this worth a watch. Chandrasekhar and Heffernan tend to steal the show more than the rest of the crew but that's mainly because they happen to have the more interesting characters to play. Heffernan's great as the cop who can't wait to abuse his authority on anyone he happens to dislike while Chandrasekhar's more subtle and strangely sexual character gets plenty of good lines in as well - who wants a moustache ride?
Technically speaking, the film isn't any more interesting than any other screwball comedy you would care to name but at the same time, it's a competently made picture. The cinematography is average, no better but no worse, but the writing is quick witted and clever and the delivery is incredibly well timed and very fluid. Broken Lizard have gone on to make a few more films - the underappreciated Club Dread and Beerfest but Super Troopers remains their funniest effort so far. Here's hoping that the recently announced (at the time of this writing) Super Troopers 2 is able to tickle our funny bones as effectively as the original film.
Super Troopers debuts on Blu-ray in a decent anamorphic 1.85.1 1080p AVC encoded widescreen transfer that preserves the film's original aspect ratio. This isn't a reference quality effort to rank up there with the best HD discs on the market, but it looks okay. There's a whole lot more detail here than there is in the SD release and colors look more natural and more vibrant but you don't get that pristine level of detail or that 'pop' that makes the best looking Blu-ray discs so beloved. That said, the picture does look good here. There aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts and while minor edge enhancement is visible, it's never overpowering. Black levels stay strong throughout the movie and while some minor print damage shows up in the form of the odd speck here and there, it's a minor problem even at its most prevalent.
Fox gives Super Troopers a solid DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix that does a good job with the film's soundscape even if at times it leans a little too much towards the loud side. Generally the levels are well balanced and there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion to complain about. Sound effects are well placed throughout the various channels in the set up and bass response has some nice kick to it. Dialogue is clean and clear and easy to follow throughout the picture and while this isn't the type of aggressive mix you'll use to show off your home theater system, it gets the job done reasonably well.
Broken Lizard delivers two very funny commentary tracks, both carried over from the standard definition release, that are worth a listen and are not only informative, but pretty amusing as well. The first track is with Chandrasekhar and Stohlanske and is genuinely interesting and almost as much fun as the movie itself. The second one, with the other three members, is still pretty funny, but unfortunately it covers a lot of the same ground that the first track already did. New to this Blu-ray release is a picture in picture track in which all five of the Broken Lizard guys appear in the window and rip on the movie as it plays out. It doesn't relay too much in the way of interesting facts or information but it is funny and if you enjoyed the twisted sense of humor on display in the film, definitely do give this a spin for more of the same. Also exclusive to the Blu-ray release is the Super Troopers Drinking Game where you have to divide up into teams and use the remote to play a trivia game which may or may not result in contestants having to chug back some booze. Fun stuff!
Also carried over from the SD release there is an extensive collection of outtakes from the film and extended scenes that you can watch with the optional commentary on. Without the commentary, these are really nothing special, but when listening to the Broken Lizard team giving the outtakes their spin, it's pretty hilarious.
A featurette entitled Road Trip New York Wrap has the guys, in character, out hawking the film with some less than typical promotions at one of the Big Apple's Universities. There is also a six-minute making of featurette that is moderately interesting although far to brief to be of any real substance. More fun to watch is an amusing alternate ending. A pair of theatrical trailers for the feature and trailers for There's Something About Mary, Juno, and Me, Myself And Irene round out the extras. Animated menus and chapter selection are also included. Only the trailers are presented in high definition, the rest of the supplements are presented in 480p.
The improvement in sound and video and the additional supplements make this a worthwhile upgrade for owners of the standard definition release and those who haven't had the pleasure of watching Super Troopers yet can definitely consider this Blu-ray release the way to go. The film holds up well and remains an enjoyably crass take on the cop comedy genre made all the more enjoyable by some solid writing and great performances. Recommended!
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.
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