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The town of Spursburry, Vermont is just your regular old run-of-the-mill suburban town where not a heck of a lot happens. The only real crimes occurring are the occasional speeder or domestic dispute.  The town does have more than it's fair share of law enforcement with both the highway patrol and the local cops fighting over jurisdiction.  The highway patrollers are a bunch of cops that enjoy clowning around with people more than actually arresting or charging them. Their captain (Brian Cox) wants them to clean up their act, catch more speeders, handout more tickets and perhaps uncover information about illegal activities taking place in town. One day word comes down that the department is in danger of being closed due to lack of funds. It just so happens that news comes as the same time of a strange murder which appears to have connections to drug trafficking.  Although the local force claims responsibility for the investigation, the troopers begin to look into things as well and despite their  unorthodox methods and juvenile behavior they do manage to uncover some crucial evidence.  The problem is that the two forces hate each other so much that they refuse to work together to get to the bottom of the crime. However, the troopers do get some help from local cop Ursula (Marisa Coughlan), who has been relegated to desk duty and is eager to get out into the field.  Meanwhile things don't go entirely perfect for the troopers as one begins to fall in love with someone on the opposite force while another pull's a stunt at a local Burger Joint that just might cost the entire group their jobs. With the odds clearly stacked against them can the troopers overcome their unprofessional work ethic to crack the case? Or will they be looking elsewhere for new employment?

Super Troopers

Super Troopers marks the directorial debut of Jay Chandrasekhar and the first appearance of New York's Broken Lizard Comedy Troupe on the big screen. The film caught the eye of Fox Searchlight Pictures at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival, who bought the rights to release the film theatrically.  At first when I saw the theatrical trailer and TV Spots for the film I was not sure what to make of the film as it looked rather dumb and unfunny, though there was something memorable about the quote used in the film's advertising. This attracted my friends and I to see the film on one boring Sunday night when we had very little else to do or see.  This is an interesting film in that it's a roller coaster ride of ups and downs throughout. There's not a heck of a lot of a plot though the story does seem to progress ever so slightly through what could be considered as a series of sketches. Director Chandrasekhar does a decent job of directing this motion picture, though he occasionally is unable to make up his mind as to whether the jokes or the story should come first. At times the film just zips along while in some other places it slows down almost to a crawl. He handles the cast and especially his friends from the troupe quite well as he gets the best out of his performers.  

Speaking of the film's performers, the majority of the cast in this film is made up of members of the Broken Lizard Comedy Troupe, who are basically involved with every aspect of this independent film. Playing the state troopers are Jay Chandrasekhar as Thorny, Kevin Heffernan as Rodney "Ramrod" Farva, Steve Lemme as Mac, Paul Soter as Foster and Erik Stolhanske as Rabbit. Each of the troopers has their distinct personality type from the more mature Thorny to the wild and off the wall Foster and the insanely demented and angry Farva.  While all the performances were good, the two that really standout against the rest are Kevin Heffernan's Farva and Steve Lemme's Mac. Over and above all the roles those two actors play are more caricatures than real people and are just the zany off the wall types that you'd expect to find in one of these comedies.  In addition to the comedians, the film does feature some actors including the always strong Brian Cox as the no-nonsense Sergeant. Cox has to play things fairly serious and does a good job balancing the antics of his subordinates. The same can't be said for actor Daniel Von Bargen, who is the most vocal and "cartoony" member of the rival police force. Von Bargen is best known for his military roles in several key films.  Last but certainly not least is the always lovely Marisa Coughlan who plays the troopers' inside source in the police department. Coughlan, who gave a strong performance in the otherwise weak film Teaching Mrs Tingle doesn't have much to do here but she lights up each and every scene she's in.

Super Troopers

Super Troopers is a funny little gem of a film that really works better than it should. It's got what I'd consider only an outline of a story but when the jokes work they work quite well. Although a number of jokes still manage to fall flat on their face, the number that hit is still much larger than the ones that miss. One thing that does harm the film is that at 103 minutes in length it's almost overstaying it's welcome. The story doesn't progress as quickly as it could and there are a few too many scenes that, while funny, don't really fit in with the rest of the film. Still, director Jay Chandrasekhar and his Broken Lizard Comedy Troupe have made a film that does more right than wrong and provides an enjoyable if not always consistently entertaining motion picture. It's not the funniest comedy I've seen all year but there are moments where the laughter flows quickly.

Video
Fox Searchlight Pictures brings Super Troopers  home to the DVD format with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, recreating the film's original theatrical presentation. I did have a chance to see the film theatrically and the print I saw left a negative impression on me as it was washed out and lacking any real definition. This DVD transfer fixes all the problems I had with it in the theater and betters that viewing experience, although this transfer isn't without it's flaws. The 1.85:1 framing features a well defined and solid visual image that with the exception of a few minor nighttime scenes is consistently sharp. Colors are bright and vibrant, never once appearing washed out or under saturated. The green grass and forest trees are especially rich which gives the film a nice warm look.  Given the film's rather low budget one could expect the film to look a lot worse than it does and while there are problems they are kept to a minimum. The transfer's biggest problem is that it uses an over abundance of edge enhancement in certain scenes. While it's applied mildly in each sequence, it does get to the point where it becomes a bit of a distraction. The same can be said for a number of print flaws that appear early on in the film. Luckily these tend to go away after about the second reel of the film but given the age of the picture these type of flaws should have been a non issue. Overall, I'm pretty impressed with how good this film looks on the small screen because it didn't look this good on the huge theater screen. Aside from a few minor issues this is really nice work from the team at Fox Searchlight.

Super Troopers

Audio
Super Troopers is presented by 20th Century Fox in Dolby Digital 5.1. Since the film is clearly a comedy I wasn't really expecting much in terms of an audio mix though I was pleasantly surprised to learn Super Troopers only has a light case of the comedy audio syndrome. The most surprising aspect of the audio mix was the rock score by 38 Special which clearly elevates this track to the next level. Now don't get me wrong for the majority of the film's running time things remain up front but when the music comes in the surrounds come into play. Dialogue is mixed loud enough that it won't get drowned out by viewer laughter. Sound effects usage is minimal and almost entirely in the front channels though from time to time something may come from the rear. Aside from the rock score the subwoofer doesn't really see much action though that's to be expected given the genre of the film.  All in all Super Troopers isn't destined to become the next comedy reference disc but it does sound pretty good.

Extras
This DVD edition of Super Troopers contains just about everything the film fan could want. Kicking off the disc are the two feature length audio commentaries which between them contain every member of Broken Lizard.  The first track is the filmmakers commentary and features director Jay Chandrasekhar and Erik Stolhanske while Paul Soter, Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme sit down for the second track.  Both commentaries contain some interesting information about the making of the film and the forming of the group though each one tends to repeat a great detail of information from the other. I enjoyed listening to samples of each track and at times there is some really funny material but there just wasn't enough there for me to spend nearly four hours with these guys talking about their fairly straightforward motion picture.  After all how much can really be said about this sort of film.

The section most likely to interest fans of the film is the combination deleted scenes/outtakes portion of the disc.  Contained within this section of the disc is an outtakes reel which runs 16 minutes and features the Broken Lizard team cracking up during some fairly juvenile pranks and gags. In addition to the main set of general outtakes there are some more scene specific gags like "Pot Outtakes", "Helping Grady's Nephew and Rabbit in the Garage" as well as "Slap a Burger Guy and Politicians are Donkeys". Just like the main feature itself, this section offers two optional commentary tracks including the same participants mentioned above. Some of this material is funny but like the film itself it's mostly hit and miss for the 20 odd minutes of running time.

Super Troopers

Now for what could be considered some of the strangest bonus material I've ever seen we have what is labelled as "Featurette" as well as the "Road Trip Newsletter". The former appears to be some sort of behind the scenes look at the Spursburry police department and State Troopers. It serves as a simple introduction to the story and the film's cast of characters. Backed by a serious sounding voice over describing the situation the featurette is simply just an extended trailer with some short interviews of the star's in character. Lasting a mere five minutes this is nothing but filler material that, although attempting to be funny, misses it's mark big time. The latter is a two minute highlight reel of a cross country trip taken by the Broken Lizard comedy troupe to promote their film on various college campuses.  This one has a much lighter tone to it but is still just basically a commercial for the film.

Also included is the theatrical trailer for Super Troopers as well as a video trailer for Kung Pow : Enter the Fist.

Overall
Super Troopers isn't an all out laugh riot but it is a comedy that managed to get more than it's fair share of laughs out of someone who is becoming more and more cynical by the minute. The laughs aren't the smart and witty kind but the film never has to resort to gross-out or toilet humor and that's always a good thing. 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight have a nice little comedy on their hands here that will only gain a larger audience on DVD. The Super Troopers disc features a nice 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer as well as an above average Dolby Digital 5.1 comedy audio mix which is lead by it's presentation of .38 Special's film score. In terms of bonus features Fox has gone above and beyond the call of duty on this non special edition release by including 2 audio commentaries, deleted material and a couple odd featurettes. If you haven't seen Super Troopers or are not sure that it's the film for you then it might be a good idea to rent the disc, otherwise if your already a fan of the film then there's no reason not to buy this DVD.


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